Chris Lowis by Chris Lowis

Week 491

This week we kicked off a short new project, finished up some documentation for our last one, attended a couple of events and made some progress on a side-project.

Modern Slavery Registry

On Tuesday we hosted a planning session with Patricia and Alex from the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC). We’ve just started a short project with them to improve their Modern Slavery Registry. The 2015 Modern Slavery Act compels companies over a certain size to publish an annual statement. The statement describes the steps it has taken in the year to ensure that slavery is not happening within the organisation or in its supply chain. The legislation doesn’t have particularly severe penalties though, so many companies do not produce statements, or omit crucial detail. The Modern Slavery Registry collects the statements that are published and helps charities and NGOs hold companies to account.

In our planning session on Tuesday we decided together on some priorities for the work. BHRRC are keen to cut their monthly Heroku costs (their database has grown quite large and it’s starting to cost a significant amount). They’d also like us to help them import modern slavery statements made under other jurisdictions (California and Australia have similar legislation) and improve their web-scraping tool that looks for newly-published statements.

We spent the rest of the week getting stuck into the project, by adding some supporting tooling and starting to migrate the site to AWS. The codebase is developed in the open on Github so we’ll be able to talk a bit more about the details as we get to new feature development.

We’re able to spend around 16 developer days on this project so have decided that Ben and Chris will tackle the bulk of the work. In the meantime we’re still on the lookout for our next project. If that’s with you, get in touch.

BBC Smart Speakers

We recently finished our work with the BBC’s Internet Research and Future Services team. Other teams within the BBC are working on smart speaker applications, so we put together a video to quickly summarise our work. After playing around for a while with video editors iMovie and the free version of DaVinci Resolve I decided it’d be simpler to put a presentation together with Keynote and record myself presenting it. This worked quite well, but it’d be great to be able to quickly produce more polished videos.

We’re also writing a blog post with some more detail of our work on this project and hope to get the contents of that approved for publication so we can talk more about it. And maybe even find some other clients who can benefit from our smart speaker expertise!

Other things

  • James and I continued working on our side-project that helps teams celebrate success. We’re building a part of the application using Elm and learning a bit about how to build page layouts using CSS Grid.
  • On Thursday Ben and I attended DxW’s 10th birthday party. I had a really enjoyable chat comparing notes with their MD David and learning more about their projects. I was particularly taken with their large poster boards giving quick one-sentence summaries of delivered projects complete with screenshots on mobile devices.
  • On Friday I attended the CoTech Goodnight Disruption event. The event ran as part of London Tech Week and seemed very well attended.
  • We put in an application for another DO&S opportunity. Although the chances of success seem quite low (there’s 20 applicants) and the process is quite time consuming it feels important that we keep writing these applications and hopefully get better/faster at doing them.
  • Chris and I spent some time improving our cash flow forecasting spreadsheet using some handy tips from FreeAgent.

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