Little Printer Blog — Trying something

Trying something

Hi everyone. Hello from where I’m sitting at home in London. It’s Sunday night, I’m Matt, my personal homepage is over here. Till recently I was CEO at Berg, now I’m the last employee and trying to wrap things up nicely. To do that I’ve got about a day a week cos I also now have other commitments.

I’d like to try something…

My aim is to leave all the Little Printer owners out there (myself included) with a website that keeps the thing running and - for hard-core coders - that they can add new features to.

But because I’m the last one left, it has to be way way simpler than the code we currently have running on the servers. That code was built over several years by lots of people, and it ran many different types of products, some public and some not.

an experiment

So here’s what I’m trying out: I’ve spent some time making a new website backend to run Little Printer. I gave it the codename “sirius” because everything needs a codename.

It’s as simple as I can possibly make it: You can send messages to your printer, and anyone you follow on Twitter can send you messages too. That’s all! Why pick that? Because I saw that, over time, messaging was the main feature that most people came back to, again and again. Gotta start somewhere, hey.

For the engineering that’s beyond my grasp, I worked with the wonderful Tom Hunger of We Are Wizards, who is a thoughtful and diligent engineer of elegant, robust code.

I’m going to warn you, this experimental website isn’t pretty! This is the earliest I can possibly show it to you, so it’s got no design (I’ll have to learn HTML again…), the much-loved message templates aren’t there yet, and there’s no Direct Print API yet.

But you know what… I can claim a printer and my friends can send me messages, so it works!

image

There’s a link to the “alpha” test site at the bottom of this post. If you’re code-inclined, you will be able to follow along the development there (slow cos it’s just me, but developing).

Alpha testers?

I’m also looking for a some friendly folks - fewer than a dozen - to come and test this with me. London-based please, so we can chat more easily, and it would help if we know each other already. Drop me a mail at matt at bergcloud dot com if that’s you. Apologies in advance for delays in replying, I’m doing a lot of different things these days.

What my “alpha” testers will have to do is install a software update on the Berg Cloud Bridge. This software update makes the Bridge configurable – at the moment, it only connects to the bergcloud.com servers. After the update, you can change it to connect to a different backend server running an installation of this new Little Printer code. It’s heinously complex stuff, the real bare metal of how internet-connected products work. Preparing this update was one of the final big pieces of work Nick did before he finished, and I’m grateful he did. Thank you Nick!

Installing the Bridge software update is risky. We might brick the Bridges. So we’ll take all of this step by step.

You can find the work-in-progress at alpha.littleprinter.com. There’s a link to the code repo on the about page… I’ll make that code public and downloadable once some smarter eyes than mine have had a look at it for howlers. The site is ugly, it’ll break regularly as I develop it, and I’ll have to keep deleting all the data. But I use it right now to run my own home LP so that’s a thing!

Anyway. Just trying out this option. It might not be the exclusive future path of Little Printer, let me see how it goes.

Matt

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