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Prototyping Weeknotes #40 (12/11/10)

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Tristan Ferne | 15:56 UK time, Friday, 12 November 2010

As the wind blows the autumn leaves from the trees outside my window our Autumnwatch project is in full flow. On Monday we put up the holding page for the recruitment and the invite emails went out. By Tuesday we'd already hit our limit for volunteers who had passed the browser test and initial survey. We're quite surprised, yet pleased. After a bit of cajoling we manage a couple of run-throughs of the framework and it all works - error screens appear when they should and analytics start getting filled with data. About half the team are working on this project now, this is what is going on at the moment.

We've got some additional help from Amanda, who's in the office, and Clare, who's on the other end of a phone, helping us to create the content. They're researching, writing and sourcing data and pictures, mainly looking into starlings and trout. Working with what is essentially a live TV show is, well, interesting. During the course of one morning the expected content of the show goes from birds to fish and then to birds and fish. But we do know the approximate structure of the programme - how many features are likely and what the regular features are.

From there it's onto Theo, who's maintaining a serene manner in the face of a lot of pressure. He's turning the facts and images into the pages, which vary from simple factbox templates to complex custom infographics. Duncan and Chris B are then taking on the designs that Theo's completed and building them into the actual pages that will be pushed to the viewers on the night.

Chris G and I are worrying about what needs to happen when, how we're going to test it all, identifying what's missing and generally co-ordinating things. I'm also volunteering to fill in any gaps that appear in the research. Vicky's co-ordinating all the content and figuring out what we want to learn for the questions in the survey that will be presented at the end of the experiment.

Apart from that, everything seems to be progressing smoothly. Kat, Jo and Vicky are doing some RadioVIS slideshow work, drafting new slide designs ready for a sign-off meeting next week. Kat runs a fantastic workshop to generate Firehose ideas with a good selection of bright people from radio, TV and news together with some R&D people. She's also written up the current user stories so that the engineers can start writing relevant queries. And indeed, Chris N has got MapReduce queries successfully running on our firehose data, using Amazon Elastic MapReduce and S3 to find the most popular hashtags. Meanwhile Paul and Sean work on monitoring the chain. Then there's the business-as-usual work - several slightly confusing EU telcos for George and Chris G, some handover work for Paul and Sam and some catching up on fixing some of our team processes.


  • Comment number 1.

    Well...I am a member of the Autumnwatch research panel and was all set at 20.15. And 20.30. And kept watching as the website attempted to auto-refresh over and over again. And absolutely nothing happened. I tried emailing digitalresearch and it bounced. So I found this site to register my concern. Your automated confirmation email has taken 20 minutes to appear. So now its 21.50 and I feel like I've wasted an hour and a half of this evening. What on earth went wrong?

  • Comment number 2.

    We're really sorry about that, a number of people seemed to experience the same problem as you with the welcome page not reloading correctly. We are investigating but we think it worked successfully for the majority of people and can only apologise and say that it was an experiment.

  • Comment number 3.

    Thank you very much for your reply. Is it possible that Firefox users have extensions/plugins incompatible with the functionality of the website? Personally I disabled Flashblock and Adblock just in case. But FF users are keen customizers with Personas/Themes etc. Should pop-ups have been enabled perhaps?

  • Comment number 4.

    We think it was something to do with caching of the page. A shift-refresh/reload of the page seemed to fix it for some people.


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