Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Swift lessons: Why write in Objective-C #swiftlang

A few people have asked why I’m exploring tvOS in Objective-C instead of Swift given how invested I am in the new language.

Quick answer: I want to use SpriteKit and all my Sprite libraries are in ObjC. I’ve attempted to port them a few times but Swift kept changing. Right now, I can throw everything together (SpriteKit, my Essentials pack, my Handy Utilities pack, Constraints, etc) and just use one language to get it all done.

Going back and forth in one project is a major cognitive burden and this just got me going quicker. I’ll probably start porting my SpriteKit utilities again now that 2.0 seems “stable” (hah, just watch, this is like Charlie Brown and the football, right?).

And yes, it’s really weird to spend your entire day in Swift and then poke around in ObjC in the evening to see what’s new in tvOS (which I keep want to write as osTV for some reason).

Product Thoughts

Yesterday gave us an evolutionary event from a company best known for its revolutionary products. When it comes to Apple, the big years were 2001 (iPod and OS X), 2007 (iPhone), and 2010 (iPad, with the product best realized a year later with the iPad 2).

Apple has always been a “premium” consumer product line, competing on quality over bargains but they did so at price points that appealed to middle-class households.

Yesterday’s announcement felt almost hallucinogenically elite. From Hermes watch bands to the iPad Pro, there was little on offer outside the iPhone refresh to invigorate middle class buying, not even a nod to the recently refreshed iPod line.

The pencil announcement played poorly to the group I was watching with but I found the notion of a low-latency, high-accuracy stylus intriguing. It’s one of the things that really grabbed my interest yesterday and I’m curious to how it will deliver on performance.

Both the pencil and the keyboard are a nod to the reality that the casual-use tablet has a new role in work and education, taking off where the finger stops.

While I personally loathe low-profile, non-mechanical keyboards, the keyboard case plays an important role in re-positioning the iPad to a more traditional Surface-y adaptable work tool. Pro, pencil, and keyboard are poised for a MacBook smackdown as people re-evaluate what laptops really can do for them in a tablet age.

I don’t see either category going away soon. The new accessory line supports the notion that the distinction is going to become blurrier.

Apple TV got its rumored refresh and now supports apps. I don’t know enough about the remote, its feel and utility, and how the onboard motion support works, to give an honest evaluation of its potential. The whole Siri thing and the bright white backgrounds feel more like a response to Amazon than a consumer-driven refresh but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise.

Consoles are a very odd market right now and I’m seeing bits of promise but it feels way early and under-baked. This should have been a huge splash of a product wave and instead it came across as more a puddle.

The phones are, of course, beautiful and once again the camera features really shine. The bit with the Facetime camera flash fill in particular sounds intriguing. But the big news to me is more how they positioned the sales:

In the end, I don’t see anything I need to buy right away for work or for family.

OS X Maps hint of the day

Want to grab the latest Maps data and don’t want to wait for updates? I’ve heard of a quick and easy solution, which is to delete ~/Library/Caches/GeoServices. This forces a cache flush and updates all your maps.

I noticed this might be especially handy today for those of you who use public transit in DC, Philly, Mexico City or Chicago.  Happy traveling all.

Well, lookie that! A new iPod touch!

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 12.18.32 PM

Just when you thought they went extinct:

CUPERTINO, California — July 15, 2015 — Apple® today introduced the best iPod touch® yet and unveiled a new lineup of colors for all iPod® models, including space gray, silver, gold, pink and blue. The ultra-portable iPod touch features a new 8 megapixel iSight® camera for beautiful photos, an improved FaceTime® HD camera for even better selfies, the Apple-designed A8 chip with 10 times faster graphics performance for a more immersive gaming experience, and even better fitness tracking with the M8 motion coprocessor

We own an iPod touch 5th gen that I picked up refurb for about $150 and it’s really fabulous. One of my favorite iOS purchases ever, and currently my primary development unit for iOS 9.

The new iPods with teen-friendly case colors (think metallic rather than iPhone 5C colored, plus the now-standard gold/silver/black) start from $199 at the Apple Store.

Both the nano and the shuffle also appear to include new finishes.

New to the Internet of Things: Eddystone BLE Info transmissions

From Google:

Move over iBeacon–today Google is launching “Eddystone,” an open source, cross-platform Bluetooth LE beacon format. Bluetooth beacons are part of the Internet of Things (IoT) trend…Like iBeacon, but more open.

Interestingly enough, the press release includes “Kulick told Ars,” which strikes me as a really odd phrase to include in a press release that’s not actually from Ars Technica. (Waves hi to Jacqui.)

Details here. Color me intrigued.

Non-review: The Einstein Prophecy


So this month’s Kindle First picks showed up in my inbox from Amazon Prime and among them was this: The Einstein Prophecy.

The blurb (in part):

As war rages in 1944, young army lieutenant Lucas Athan recovers a sarcophagus excavated from an Egyptian tomb. Shipped to Princeton University for study, the box contains mysteries that only Lucas, aided by brilliant archaeologist Simone Rashid, can unlock.

These mysteries may, in fact, defy—or fulfill—the dire prophecies of Albert Einstein himself.

Did I somehow miss the moment when Einstein became a religious figure? I mean, “You believe in a God who plays dice, and I in complete law and order in a world which objectively exists.” “IT IS A PROPHECY”

Things you can gather from this post:

  1. I am knee-deep in writing about printing, debug printing, output streams, mirroring, quick looks, and so forth and will take any excuse to grab a break because my brain is about to melt from minutia.
  2. I am so picking this one as my Kindle First choice for this month. (You get to pick from four of them.)
  3. I hope Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter will show up for a quick cameo.
  4. The foundation of morality should not be made dependent on myth nor tied to any authority lest doubt about the myth or about the legitimacy of the authority imperil the foundation of sound judgment and action, ” doesn’t sound like a man who will utter vague prophesies for a summer potboiler.

Oh what the hell. Here’s some more

Struggling to decipher the sarcophagus’s strange contents, Lucas and Simone unwittingly release forces for both good and unmitigated evil. The fate of the world hangs not only on Professor Einstein’s secret research but also on Lucas’s ability to defeat an unholy adversary more powerful than anything he ever imagined.

Life with 6-Plus

As we head into Summer, I’ve had a good long haul with my 6-Plus. I think I’ve had enough hands-on time with it to summarize how I like it. In a word? Meh. This is not one of Apple’s more outstanding products.

It’s not big enough to be used as a tablet so I end up hauling my iPad with my everywhere. It’s too big to be used comfortably as a phone so I keep longing for a smaller handset. In fact, I’d have done much better at this point getting a phone from any provider with voice dialing and an iPad or iPad mini with cellular data.

That’s not to say that there isn’t much to love on the 6 plus. It’s just that you have to look to find it. It’s like hauling around a well-intentioned bumbling moose with you. No matter how nice the moose, it’s still a moose.

Fun with Apple Unicode: Here’s to the crazy ones


There are no fewer than seven different “Here’s to the crazy ones” references in the Apple Emoji set. (If I missed any, please let me know!)

Update: A thank you goes out to commenter Unicode.

Unicode: U+1F4DD (U+D83D U+DCDD), UTF-8: F0 9F 93 9D

Unicode: U+1F4DC (U+D83D U+DCDC), UTF-8: F0 9F 93 9C

Unicode: U+1F4D6 (U+D83D U+DCD6), UTF-8: F0 9F 93 96

Unicode: U+1F4D1 (U+D83D U+DCD1), UTF-8: F0 9F 93 91

Unicode: U+1F4CB (U+D83D U+DCCB), UTF-8: F0 9F 93 8B

Unicode: U+1F4C3 (U+D83D U+DCC3), UTF-8: F0 9F 93 83

Unicode: U+1F4C4 (U+D83D U+DCC4), UTF-8: F0 9F 93 84