project management

Update 2.5.19

“Maybe there are things you can’t necessarily measure,” Brady had suggested before the game. “But in the end maybe they’re more important than anything you can measure.”

3D printed ELIA Frame keycap prototypes on a Gigabyte Force K83 mechanical gaming keyboard.

3D printed ELIA Frame keycap prototypes on a Gigabyte Force K83 mechanical gaming keyboard.

Conversation with Sassy Outwater - Wright

We had the opportunity to talk again with Sassy Outwater-Wright of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind. She has been an advisor to us since October. She and I have been talking about what the ELIA community needs in terms of a concerted effort to change the education, employment, literacy and independence dynamics. Given that the blind and visually impaired have such untapped potential and costs, and that that potential for change be measured in the billions of dollars in lost wages and higher health care costs per year, we believe that a multi million dollar effort, a “moon shot” if you will, would be a worthwhile investment in this community. Every year, this community could be making valuable contributions to society, if we can harness the resources for a “barn raising” effort that includes hardware, curriculum development and some basic services. Sassy and I have been discussing who needs to be engaged to serve on the moon shot team and what resources we would need to achieve it. I posted a statistical overview of some of the challenges we face on LinkedIn.

Printer Development

We discussed and chose a new paper path for the printer that will result in the paper exiting the printer on the top of it. From a usability perspective, this is helpful, as the end user can retrieve output from any side of the printer, and it reduces the footprint of the printer. Indeed, the new printer is expected to be 50% smaller than our latest prototype. We also reviewed the electric engineering design and firmware design for the printer. Luckily, our in-house engineering team is led by Steve Getz, who adeptly managed the engineering discussion with Simplexity. The conversation wrapped up with a review of the timeline for this part of the engagement with Simplexity. This phase should conclude by the end of February, at which time we will have a clear road map for the final development of the TouchPrinter. Simplexity has been incredible, both in terms of their unmatched knowledge of our product’s development and in terms of the fluidity with which they are able to collaborate with us.

Kelsa Trom (NEW INC)

I met with Kelsa Trom of NEW INC this past week as well. She is the new programing lead at NEW INC and as such, I wanted to touch base with her and see how we could help her serve its community. There are a few initiatives, such as peer-to-peer check in groups and a social impact entrepreneurship and investing conference. Byron and I would value a peer-to-peer check-ins once a week and have discussed initiating one. If we could reduce the experience to best practices for NEW INC, we believe it could improve the success rates of entrepreneurs at NEW INC and make it a force for change in much the same way that Y-Combinator is a force. And indeed, a Paul Graham blog post from 2007 inspired this effort. It is worth a read if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur. And indeed, I would highly recommend you share it with any entrepreneur you know. It will change their lives.

Adam Linn and Community Development

Our discussions with Adam this week were informed by our meeting last week with Tom DeRosa. We reviewed labels. We discussed what we could do better, such as:

  1. Getting a small group of blind people together to learn ELIA and to teach us
  2. Giving a TED talk where we would share Adam’s experience with ELIA Frames and what it could mean for society
  3. Building relationships with 3M and other companies for prototyping

Check out @Linnspired here!

Project Management Software

One of our advisors, Rick Mangi, the CIO of Chartbeats, recommended that we manage our projects with project management (PM) software. So we have licenses for Merlin, which works on the Mac. PM has been a part of the week, as Byron has spent time to learning the ins and outs of it.

Merlin Project logo shown

Merlin Project logo shown

PM breaks a project down into tasks and subtasks, with dependent tasks delineated. It’s good for repeat projects like SBIR grants and for general large projects, but even for smaller ones. It is hard to escape the realities of a project when you’ve made a PM document. You can better budget your time and resources. Furthermore, if you are fatigued or don’t know what to do next, it acts as a surrogate brain, reminding you what comes next. And if you have 30 minutes here or there, sometimes you can just choose an easier task and square that away. It is also a good document to share across the team. Anyone can pick the document up and know where the project stands. …..We are still getting our feet wet with PM, but look forward to crushing tasks using it.