TANC Field Units ready for shipping!
After some minor bugfixes on the software that makes them do their stuff, I started working on packaging. I found some standard cardboard boxes in interesting shapes and sizes at Paardekoper Verpakkingen in The Hague which fit my units surprisingly well! But of course a standard cardboard box is just too boring so I added some new material, based on the "corporate style" designed last year by Nathalie Soetens. I made custom labels for the boxes, as well as a little User Guide and a Letter from the Founder to be enclosed in each box (see picture).
For my first overseas deployment I sent off the first two Field Units. There's more paperwork than I expected, I must find a way to automate this some more.
Anyway: godspeed, Alfa3 & Alfa4, may you enjoy life in some network in Chicago and bring back some good stories (in the form of interesting data series)...
Big Data on AWS
Last Thursday I visited a very interesting meetup called 3 steps to Big Data on AWS, arranged by BigData Republic together with Amazon Web Services. The various presentations were quite inspiring for me, and I found several new insights into the techniques I might use to develop several higher-level features to add to TiNC Works! Clearly, my product is (just about) completely data-driven, and there must be scalable methods to use (automated) algorithms to make sense of the growing body of data collected daily by the Field Units.
At the end of the presentations, a sponsored Proof-of-Concept was offered to the participants. I really, really would like to take part in this but unfortunately I don't have any interesting datasets to share - yet!
Hopefully within a month or so, the Alpha Field Units out in the world will generate some interesting data - then we'll talk!
AWS Load Balancing and SSL Certificates
Any self-respecting website nowadays is secured and encrypted by using SSL encryption - the "S" in HTTPS. The current pre-alpha customer-facing portal is actually served directly from an S3 bucket on Amazon. Not really a problem, but there's no useful SSL encryption option. So today I messed around with additional AWS services to get the site deployed onto a "real" web server, and to put that web server behind a load balancer with an SSL Certificate. This turned out to be less than trivial - but I seem to be getting somewhere.
The current status is that I have a working Load Balancer (with a valid certificate associated with the company) as well as (currently a single) webserver. Now I need to move the portal's code (content, styling, scripts) over to that server. Always new challenges!
A Champagne Moment
Yes, it's finally happening! Over the last few months, the team (in particular Andrey and Roman) have worked tirelessly to get to this all-important milestone: the code running on Field Units, as well as the 3-tier Portal is ready for testing "in the real world". Shortly I will contact some of our partners to make arrangements.
Moments like this call for special attention, which I like to call a "Champagne Moment": celebrating a milestone with my friends and family. The cost of a (small) bottle vanishes in light of the time, effort, energy and hard investments that went into this phase of the development - we might as well celebrate to keep the spirits up.
@Roman and @Andrey: here's to you too! Thanks to our early-morning Scrum-like Skype meetings you were able to transform my wishes and requirements into operational code.
The first batch of Field Units
With the imminent completion of the software running on the Field Units, I thought it would be nice if all our units were assembled and activated at the same time. Some months ago I had ordered 10 custom enclosures from Germany (note the typo on the top shell), as well as a sample batch of 10 status-LED assemblies and 10 system boards from China. Combined with a 10-port USB power supply, assorted nylon screws and bolts and a batch of fresh LAN cables, I made this Christmas tree:
All status lights are green, so they're connected to the main information system out in the Cloud. From the web-based portal I can fully control the units, receive test data and create charts to show the "health" of the network:
Introducing the Alpha program
With a full batch of 10 Field Units and a working Portal, it's time to do some real-world testing. And although I've lined up a number of partner companies earlier in the development phase, there are now opportunities for other parties as well to get their hands on this technology early on - through the Alpha program:
For a limited period of time I offer interested parties this:
In return I ask your feedback on the system as-is, as well as possible suggestions for improvements and enhancements. You can find more details HERE (en) or HERE (nl), and if you're thinking about signing up, please drop us an email @ firstname.lastname@example.org.