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Subvisual Weekly #7

Another week, another weekly. For this edition, Gabriel asked me to talk a bit about my thesis and share what I have been learning and doing so far.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m still a student at University of Minho, finishing my master’s degree in Distributed Systems and Cryptography but also building a smart office here at Subvisual, all part of my thesis.

Especially with the new office, it was a great opportunity to actually create something. I’ve been researching and trying a lot of different hacks for the past few weeks. Here’s what I got so far:

Fernando's thesis in a nutshell

Notice the single resistor.

These past few weeks have been pretty crazy. When I got here, the team was still working in the old, small office. Eager to show something useful, I quickly started hacking around with some tools and created a small bot that posts temperature information in a Slack channel. I had built something! How exciting! But as it turns out, after a couple of weeks, we moved to an office that is 5 times the size of the old one, which rendered my hack useless. I had nothing to show again.

As soon as we got to the new office, I wanted to hack the AC. I don’t have any electronics background so my idea was to capture and replay the remote control IR packets. I already had everything set up and as soon as the AC was ready we noticed something was off. Apparently, the contractor opted for a manual thermostat with no remote control. So there I was, with nothing to show again.

I then turned my attention to our remote controlled lights. I… Uh… Let’s just say it’s not a finished product (it doesn’t work, I don’t know why, this makes no sense, pls send help).

It should be a given by now, when you work with hardware. No matter how many tutorials you follow, how much you speak with someone who has already done what you are trying to do now, there aren’t two systems alike and what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other.

So, I basically came in, full of hopes and dreams, eager to learn with everyone and really motivated to transform their office. Fast-forward a few weeks and I have a single resistor to show. Not too shabby, huh?

Anyway, we have a wireless doorbell now so I guess I have a new toy for next week.

Back to work

This week our team concentrated most of its efforts into pivotting a product. We’ve all been there, the design was great, the person in charge had excellent vision, it was a well-accepted product, everyone agreed it was very useful and, in a way, couldn’t be without it.

But we soon realized it had much more potential in ways we didn’t see before. That’s what product growth is all about. We saw many more use cases and decided to make the transition.

I am, of course, talking about our kitchen table, which is now our ping-pong table as well. Here’s Francisco and João trying and ultimately not succeeding to impress our viewers.

How to play ping-pong - Part I 😁

A video posted by Subvisual (@wearesubvisual) on

Braga.UX was this week and it couldn’t have gone better. Full house!

Here’s a picture of Francisco having a blast while presenting our amazing plans for Mirror Conf to everyone. (Don’t forget to grab your ticket, they’re flying!)

Francisco presenting Mirror Conf at Braga.UX

Braga.JS is tomorrow! RSVP and come hang out with us, grab a drink at our new office and listen to great talks!

By the way, we’re also on Instagram and Medium now. So make sure to follow us there as well, exciting posts are coming!

Finally, here’s the usual, interesting content gathered from all over the internet. Stay tuned for next week, I’ll ring you if I get to hack the doorbell (get it?).

11 Simple npm Tricks That Will Knock Your Wombat Socks Off

The inaccessible web: how we got into this mess

Features and marginal cost in the digital age

How Tor Works

Fernando Mendes

About Fernando Mendes

Open Source enthusiast that does not host the portuguese version of The Price Is Right. Loves reading and learning and '); DROP TABLE Staff; --
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