Five Years

This phrase get overused a lot, but I really can’t believe that it has been five years already. I guess that means we are having fun.

In the last five years you went from being a college student to being the best mom and wife I know. I can’t wait to see what the next five years brings.

Happy anniversary babe. I love you! 😍

My favorite picture of us.


'They Can Take Away Your Country, Just Like That'

Enes Kanter (of the OKC Thunder) for The Players’ Tribune:

Last week I escaped in the middle of the night from Indonesia. Then I got detained in an airport in Romania because the Turkish government canceled my passport. All on the same weekend. Maybe you saw the videos I posted.

It was my birthday on Saturday, too. I turned 25.

In one second, I was countryless. Just like that.

It was a very weird birthday.

It takes a special type of person to publicly stand up and risk everything to fight against injustice. As an NBA star, it would be easy (and tempting, I’m sure) to see all that you have to lose and just sit back and be quiet.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Enes Kanter for not taking that easy road.


'From Shared to Personal to…'

Ben Brooks on how Amazon and Microsoft are pushing products that bring back the old paradigm of computing devices that are meant to be shared by multiple people (instead of personal devices like phones that only one person primarily uses)1:

The current state of computing seemingly runs counter to the notion of shared computing. Our devices, at current, are highly personal devices and often shared only as a last resort. I think a good case could be made that even in a life and death situation a not insignificant amount of people would not share their phone passcode.

And now Amazon and Microsoft want us to loop back to a shared device? That seems unlikely. Would you rather share your iMac, or your iOS device, even if the iOS device had multi-user support, you’d likely share your iMac first. The reason for this is because the iMac feels like a less personal device and devices in general have become highly personal the more you diverge from a traditional desktop.

In fact, I have a quick test to determine if a device is meant to be highly personal or not: If the device comes in colors, it’s meant to be personal. iPhones, iPads, MacBooks — all things you would be reluctant to hand over to a stranger to use for even a moment — even reluctant to let a good friend or family member use. But a home phone? An desktop computer? Yeah sure, why the fuck not. Whatever.

And I don’t see that trend reversing either.

I think that his color test is a little off. I would propose that a more correct test would be: if I device is portable, it is meant to be shared. Currently, at least for Apple products, those two lists are pretty much the same.

  • Personal: iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, MacBook
  • Shared: Apple TV, iMac, Apple Home (a.k.a. Siri Speaker)

He then goes on to talk about how the idea of sharing products does not really fit into Apple’s business model.

For Apple’s part, they want to sell you stuff. As much stuff as possible, so shared anything is bad for Apple. Buy more stuff, not fewer things. So colors are not only a way of getting people to buy more things, but making the devices feel like they cannot be shared.

For devices meant to be used around the house, being able to effectively share them across the house will not limit sales (the exception being desktop Macs). For devices like the hypothetical Apple Home and the Apple TV, being able to share them will lead to more sales.

I would put an Apple TV on every TV in the house if I knew that everyone in the family could access their content on any of them2.

I would put Apple Homes all over the house if everyone in the house could use them with their content.

I am not arguing that every device needs to have multiple user support3, but any device that is primarily meant to be used around the house needs to have it to be competitive. I am tired of seeing Sesame Street and Daniel Tiger on my Apple TV’s Up Next queue next to Better Call Saul and Westworld.

  1. I would add Google to this list. The day before he wrote his piece, Google announced that their Google Home smart speaker is gaining the ability to tell who is speaking to it and do different things based on that information. ↩︎

  2. This is a bad example for me because we only have one TV in the house, but you get the idea. ↩︎

  3. There is a good case to make that the iPad should get it simply to be more compatible in schools. ↩︎


What's New in Swift 4

Ole Begemann made a Swift Playground that shows off some of the new features coming in Swift 4. Once you download the latest snapshot of Swift, you can run the playground in Xcode 8.3.

I have been following what has been accepted in Swift Evolution for Swift 4, but seeing it and being able to interact with it gives you a much better understanding of what it will be like to work with.

You can download the Playground on GitHub.


Classic Consoles Board Book

Shaun Inman:

It is cool when you find smart and creative people on the internet that are going through similar life circumstances as you are. Seeing things that they come up with to handle to certain situations of their lives can give you ideas that you can incorporate into your own life.

Like me, Shaun Inman currently has a young child.

A couple month ago Lincoln surprised us while reading to him by repeating back the word excavator. That’s a big word compared to his daily vocabulary (at the time) of mama, dada, and (ba)nana. It got me thinking. We have lots of books about construction vehicles but how often really is he going to find himself on a construction site? He spends time daily in our family room, if we’re going multisyllabic, let’s break out the Nintendos and the PlayStations!

He made his son Lincoln a custom wood book full of high quality pictures of some of his favorite game consoles. What a great idea.


Another cool parenting thing that he did was create Little Fingers, a macOS app that will disable all keyboard and trackpad input with a key command. It is perfect for when you are working on your Mac and a little toddle wants to climb up in your lap and mash his fingers on the keyboard.


Eva Grace Young

Royce Young:

We spent months bracing and preparing for the death of our daughter. But guess what? We weren’t ready.

Especially not with the way it happened.

So here’s the backstory: In December, my wife Keri and I went in for the standard 19-week anatomy scan of our second child. As a parent, you think that appointment is all about finding out boy or girl, but it’s about a whole lot more. In our case, our daughter was diagnosed with a rare birth defect called anencephaly. Some three in 10,000 pregnancies rare. Congratulations to us. The phrase our doctor used in explaining it was “incompatible with life,” which looks as terrible in words as it sounds. The child fails to develop the frontal lobe of the brain, or the top of their skull. The chance of survival is literal zero percent. If you’re Googling it now — first of all, don’t click images — and see a story about a baby that has lived a lengthy time with anencephaly, either the baby doesn’t actually have anencephaly, or it’s being kept alive with every life support function possible. So we sat in a doctor’s office, five months before our daughter was set to be born, knowing she would die.

I had to take a break halfway through reading this story to keep myself from tearing up too much. All I wanted to do when I finished was hug and hold my little boy.

I can’t imagine would it would be like going through what Royce and Keri went through. It is well worth a few minutes of your time to read their amazing story.


RadarScope 3.4

We have been working on this for about a year.

Mike Wolfinbarger:

Today we’re excited to launch a new premium subscription tier to RadarScope. Our original RadarScope Pro subscription is now called RadarScope Pro Tier 1. Nothing in Tier 1 or the base app has changed. You still have access to all the features you had before, including super-resolution radar products, lightning data, and multi-pane display.

Tier 2 provides new features that we’ve long wanted to add, but couldn’t at our existing price points. RadarScope Pro Tier 2 includes all the features of Tier 1 combined with three new features: a 30-day archive of all radar products, hail size and shear contours over a 24-hour period, and the ability to pay once and use your RadarScope Pro subscription across iOS, macOS, and Android platforms.

Tier 2 can be purchased for $15/month or $100/year. Pick it up for iOS, macOS, or Android.


Wikitribune

Since the events of November, I have wanted to follow the news more closely. I discovered that staying on top of current events is hard.

Using Twitter for news, my general strategy for the last few years, is becoming more and more difficult. Lately I have settled on getting most of my news from The New York Times’ Daily Podcast and the Vox Sentences Newsletter.

Finding news is easy, but finding news that I completely trust is a bit more difficult. There are news organizations that I generally trust, but I find even they will post things that are misleading or missing important context1.

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, hopes to have a solution to the problem of untrustworthy news. That solution is Wikitribune.

Wikitribune will have four tent pole ideas that it will set it apart from other news platforms.

  1. Always show sources.

    This one is big for transparency. Allowing the reader to know where all the information that they are getting comes from will go a long way toward being able to trust what they say.

    My big question on this point is how they will handle situations where the source needs to be anonymous.

  2. No ads. Everything is free.

    For me, this is the biggest one. No ads has two big advantages.

    First, the reading experience will be nice. Websites that don’t have ads look nicer and are more enjoyable to read.

    Second (and more importantly), the incentives of the site will align with the users. Websites that are ad-driven have a build in incentive to get page views. An exaggerated story about Trump will get more page views than the real story, so their business incentive goes against good journalism.

  3. Journalists work with the community.

    This one it the most interesting and the most unknown of the four. Similarly to Wikipedia, members of the community will be able to offer edits and fixes for articles. These edits will have to be approved by one of the journalists.

    Out of everything, this is biggest differentiator between Wikitribune and other news outlets.

  4. All financials are public.

    All of the content on Wikitribune will be free to everyone. It will be financially supported by people donating regularly. As a part of that, they will regularly publish all of their financial information.

I have no idea if a site like Wikitribune can work, but I really like the idea.

They are currently doing a month-long pledge to raise enough money to hire 10 journalists. They hope to launch the site this fall.

I pledged $10/month2. If you want good journalism, I encourage you to consider donating as well3.

You can donate at wikitribune.com.


Update: Jimmy Wales did a Reddit AMA about the site, where he answered my big question about anonymous sourcing.

So basically, I don’t propose an absolute ban on anonymous sourcing - just a “strict scrutiny” approach.

The entire AMA is probably worth looking though if you are on the fence about supporting.

  1. Quick note about my biggest pet peeve on reporting over the Trump administration – I hate it when publications exaggerate something that the Trump does or says.

    Don’t get me wrong, he does and says a bunch of stupid stuff; but they are not doing their readers any favors by making things sound worse than they are.

    They are providing ammunition for him to call you #fakenews and, frankly, he could be correct. The last thing we want is for publications to lose their credibility so they are not taken seriously when there is something important that needs to be reported.

    Okay, end rant. ↩︎

  2. Unfortunately, they do not accept Apple Pay as a form of payment. ↩︎

  3. If their funding goal is not reached, all the donations will be refunded. ↩︎


The Music of Rogue One

Michael Giacchino is one of only three movie composers that I know by name and can recognize elements of their work almost immediately1. The movie that really made me sit up and notice a Giacchino score was the 2009 Star Trek reboot - the cold open into space followed by the theme during the title sequence pulled me into a movie quicker than anything other than the Star Wars opening crawl had done before.

So when I heard that he had landed the part for Rogue One, I was excited.

On his YouTube channel, Sideways did a great job of showing how the Rogue One score was able to tie in work that John Williams did in the original trilogy while still standing on its own.

Because Rogue One was an anthology film and not a part of the main Skywalker Saga, Giacchino had the difficult job of cementing the score in the universe of Star Wars while being different at the same time. He was able deliver on both of those challenges while allegedly only having about a month from start to finish.

I want John Williams to keep composing for Star Wars for as long as he is able, but Michael Giacchino would be a worthy successor when the time comes.

  1. The other two being Hans Zimmer and, of course, John Williams. ↩︎


Apple's Identity and the New Mac Pro

Becky Hansmeyer:

Up until early June 2015, the company still ended every press release with “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world…” Now filter “Should we kill our high end personal computer?” through that and the answer is an emphatic “Nope.”

I agree with every word of this article.


2017 WWDC Student Scholarship

Apple Developer Relations:

If you are a student and do any iOS development, you should do yourself a favor and apply for the 2017 WWDC Student Scholarship. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend WWDC on scholarship in both 2011 and 2012 and I cannot stress how beneficial it was for my career as an iOS engineer.

While Apple has done a great job making the content of the presentations available to developers who are not in attendance quickly (and more recently, instanlty), watching videos of presentations is no substitute for actually being there.

Being able to hang out and talk with other attendees1 and Apple engineers as well as go to labs to have engineers look at your code or talk through your problems is incredibly helpful, especially as a beginner.

The student scholarship has improved quite a bit since the time I was able to use it. Attendees last year got to spend time with Tim Cook and got early entrance and special seating for the keynote. For the first time this year, Apple is also fronting the cost of lodging for attendees for the week2.

This is a great opportunity that can really jump start your career and I cannot recommend applying for it enough.

  1. I have people that I have been friends with for the last six years that I randomly met standing in line for sessions at WWDC. I really think that networking with people in the Apple development ecosystem is the best reason to attend. ↩︎

  2. They are also helping with travel assistance on an as-needed basis this year. ↩︎


On Elon Musk, SpaceX, and Tesla

A couple of weeks ago, I linked to an article about the future of artificial intelligence on waitbutwhy.com. After I finished the AI series, I dug around the site and before I knew it, I had added about ten more articles to my Safari Reading List.

As much as the AI stuff fascinated me, it did not capture my imagination like his series on Elon Musk did.

The Elon Musk series was broke into four parts.

  1. About Elon Musk
  2. Tesla
  3. SpaceX
  4. What Makes Elon Special

In addition to the main series, he had some bonus articles about some of Elon’s other ideas.


These articles give an interesting perspective on what Elon thinks are humanity’s biggest problems and what his ideas are to solve them. More than that, they paint an exciting (and realistic?) picture of what our future could look like.

So to sum up the high level themes:

Problem → Any species limited to a single planet will eventually go extinct2.

Therefore → For humanity to survive, we need to become multi-planetary3.

Solution → SpaceX.

Similarly,

Problem → Humans are destroying Earth’s environment and using up a finite supply of resources to power our civilization4.

Therefore → We need to use renewable and clean energy in as many industries as we can as soon as possible.

Solution → Tesla, Solar City, & Hyperloop.

I’m not sure that all of the things that Elon is trying to do will actually happen5; but even if he is only halfway successful, the future will be pretty exciting.


I wanted to add a quick note about the What Makes Elon Special article. I was reading these articles because I was interested in the work that Elon is doing, not because I was interested much in Elon himself. Since this article was clearly more about him than his work, I almost skipped it. I was glad that I didn’t.

The article was more about how people who change the world (like Elon) are different that people who don’t. There is a lot more to it that this, but the biggest takeaway that I got from it is that just because other people who are “smarter” than me have yet to something does not mean that I cannot do it. But like I said, there is a lot more to it, so you should just read it yourself.


Fair warning: if you start reading this series and have any inclination toward science at all, you won’t be able to quit until you finish it. Since finishing it myself, I have been finding as much more material on Mars (and space in general) as I can get. I started watching the National Geographic Mars Series, started reading How We’ll Live on Mars, and started listening to Liftoff on Relay FM6.

I recommending starting with the first article and just keep hitting the next button until it is not there anymore. Since the series is book length, he also sells a Kindle and PDF version of the whole series (a good option if you want to read it in something other than a web browser).

  1. This is not a part of the main SpaceX series because it came out much later. ↩︎

  2. There are tons of ways this can happen. Meteors, solar flares, viruses, nuclear war, Trump, ect. ↩︎

  3. Multi-planetary is not really the end goal here. For humans to survive on an infinite timescale, we need to spread out past our solar system.

    The steps here are:

    1. Colonize Mars.

    2. Colonize the rest of the solar system.

    3. Colonize outside of the solar system.

    Step 1 protects us against something happening to Earth (which could happen at literally any time). Step 2 just gives us some redundancy. Step 3 only becomes necessary when something happens to our sun. We have a few billion years to figure that one out.

    So for now we fill focus on Step 1, which is obviously enough of a problem on its own. ↩︎

  4. Quick note on why is it is important to tackle this problem along with the Mars problem:

    If we solve the problem of creating a civilization of Mars without solving the issue of not breaking Earth, we will not be in a better situation than we are in now: we would be a single-planetary species on Mars instead of Earth. ↩︎

  5. Although his track record so far is pretty good. ↩︎

  6. When I get interesting in a subject, I tend to obsess a bit. ↩︎


The Case for Deprecating UITableView

Peter Steinberger & Michael Ochs:

UITableView is a cornerstone of classical iOS development and one of the oldest classes. It’s used in pretty much all iOS apps and has been around since iPhone OS 2.0. So why would we propose deprecating one of the most used classes?

Simple: UICollectionView. Added in iOS 6 (2012), it’s almost a perfect superset of UITableView, yet it can do so much more.

I have had similar thoughts about getting rid of UITableView ever since I used my first UICollectionView. The list of reasons to stick with table views get smaller every year. Off the top of my head, the main reasons I would choose a table view over a collection view in iOS 10 are:

  • Using the system UI for editing: This includes the drag handles on the right of a UITableViewCell along with swipe to delete. Dragging and dropping in a collection view is not hard, but you don’t get that standard UI for free.
  • Autosizing cell height: A UICollectionViewCell supports autosizing via Auto Layout the same way that a UITableViewCell does, but I find a table view simpler to work with if I only want the height to be auto sized while the width matches the container (in other words, if it looks like a table).

Both of those problems could be solved with a theoretical UICollectionViewTableLayout.


The one big advantage to switching everything to a collection that I did not see mentioned in the linked article is customization. UITableView is a pretty opaque class; it has entry points for customization, but doing something that an Apple framework developer did not anticipate is either impossible or involves weird hacks or workarounds.

UICollectionView, on the other hand, is extremely customizable. By building on top of supplied UICollectionViewLayout subclasses (like UICollectionViewFlowLayout and the theoretical UICollectionViewTableLayout ), you can add customizations while inheriting all of the built in behavior from the superclass.

If this is something that you think Apple should do, it is worth your time to file a radar.


'Let the Record Show'

John Pavlovitz:

Let the record show that I did not consent to this.

Let it show that I did not vote for this man, that he did not represent me, that I did not believe he was deserving of being here, that I grieved his ascension.

Amen.


An Oral History of Final Fantasy VII

Since Final Fantasy VII has been a pretty common topic here as of late1, I could not let this Polygon piece by Matt Leone go by without linking to it:

When Final Fantasy 7 shipped in 1997, it was Square’s cash cow. The game pioneered 3D graphics techniques, helped Sony’s PlayStation outperform its competitors, established Japanese RPGs in the West and went on to sell more than 11 million copies. To many fans, it defined Square as a company.

Team members describe it as a perfect storm, when Square still acted like a small company but had the resources of a big one — and was willing to pour its money into one of the game industry’s most ambitious projects right as the 3D graphics industry began to take off.

“I don’t think I’ve felt that kind of excitement ever since,” says programmer Hiroshi Kawai. “It wasn’t just the fact that Square had the resources to get all the people and the hardware and the technology together, but even before seeing anything run, it was as if we knew we were going to be making history.”

With Final Fantasy 7 now approaching its 20th anniversary and a high-profile PlayStation 4 remake in development, we decided to look back.

Over the past two years, Polygon tracked down more than 30 people who had a hand in the original game and asked them to tell the story of its creation. Below, in their words, you’ll find a story about a company in transition — and the money, politics and talent that pushed it over the edge.

A not-insignificant portion of my childhood was spent playing Final Fantasy VII. It is easily the most influential video game I have ever played. Even with my own personal history with the game, I never did take the time to learn much about the company and the people that created it.

This oral storytelling compiled by Matt Leone at Polygon does a great job of filling in that gap for me. Not only does it tell the story of how the game came to be2, but it shows how the unexpected success of the game changed Squaresoft as a company.

The timing of this piece could not be much better with the remake sitting on the horizon. While I look forward to playing through the new version when it is released, I don’t see how it can have anywhere close to the impact on me that the original had.

  1. See here and here↩︎

  2. The bits about them choosing the PlayStation over the Nintendo 64 were especially interesting to me. ↩︎