This year we hired a couple of summer interns, and they both got interested in pursuing some side projects on their own time. Gareth thought this was awesome and spent whatever time he could helping them with the projects, and this blossomed into our newest shop policy of what we call “Google Time”, based on the policy that Google used to have of allowing their employees to spend 20% of their week on their own projects. On Fridays (after the Friday Shop Lunch, of course), we work on anything we want, as long as the work is at least tangentially related to the kind of work we do here at Creative Conners. The idea is to learn new skills without the pressure of producing a finished product by a certain date that’s a high enough quality to send to a paying customer. As with most people, there’s never enough time to learn new things, so we’re hoping that setting aside a specific time each week to focus on new skills will help make it happen.
As a technology company, we always want to continue to be innovative and push the limits of available technology, and the best part of working at Creative Conners is that we get to create new products using these technologies. During the development process, we do software and firmware programming, machine design, 3D CAD, CNC machining, electrical and electronic design as well as a slew of sub-disciplines, and having as many people as possible digging their hands into those areas makes us a better company. It all comes down to the old adage that a sharp tool cuts better than a dull one, and if everyone is keeping sharp on the available tech, then we make better products, in less time.
So here’s a rundown of what’s being worked on:
Jon Haupt jumped right in with a project he’s been thinking about since before he started here in May. He’s experimenting with embedded programming using the Arduino platform with the hopes of getting a network-enabled projector dowser communicating with Dataton Watchout. He’s also started dabbling in iOS programming and thinking about bringing the CCI Motor Calc to your iPhone.
Kody has been designing a new wrench for our Tormach CNC mill, using Solidworks for the design and SprutCam to produce the CNC files. He’s also putting together a design for CCI cycling kits, and if that happens, don’t worry, I’ll post a picture of the team in all our glory.
Tom has been working on a remote control car that uses 2 Arduinos, each with an XBee module for radio communications. One Arduino is hacked into a PS3 controller and the other is on the car. Tom feeds the signal from the analog sticks on the controller to an Arduino, which communicates over the air to another Arduino that drives and steers the car.
Royal is learning Python, and hopes to build a web-based training log using the Google App Engine for the framework.
As the Sales and Marketing Manager, my focus has been less tech-based. I’ve been studying copywriting, since it’s the thing I know the least about, and I’ve also been studying Google Analytics, SEO and AdWords, so that I can better understand what’s good and bad about our communications and the website and make changes based on metrics and not just gut feelings.
We’ll post more pics, videos and screenshots as the projects come along. If you do anything like this where you’re at, let us know what you’re working on in the comments.