April 21st – Progress Update

A couple months ago I wrote about a little local project I’ve been working on: a license plate game for Nebraska residents/tourists (okay, Nebraska doesn’t really have tourists). Things are slowly coming together with only a few, albeit time-consuming, things left on my to-do list. One of those things involves researching my state’s history and geography, and another involves designing some achievement-related assets and a system for unlocking them.

The UI still needs work, obviously (especially the information density). The “Discoveries” section will be home to special “points of interest” which will be little badges that are automatically unlocked when a person discovers certain counties. Each point of interest will display a little story or historical nugget when tapped. The app is supposed to be educational and fun, and while I don’t think it’ll make much money (if any), I want it to be well-designed and look nice in my app portfolio.

As I mentioned in a previous post, there are 93 counties in Nebraska. I decided to request an App Store rating when a person spots 62 of them. I figure if they stick with it that long, they must like it at least a little! There’s also a link to rate the app in the modal Settings view.

So yeah! That’s where I’m at. I’m hoping it won’t take much more than a month for me to finish and ship this baby. 🤞

Apple’s Identity and the New Mac Pro

The Mac Pro was dead, or so many of us thought. Or so Apple thought, apparently, because rumor has it the decision to revive it was made fairly recently.

The implications of the Mac Pro’s presumed death were worrisome and left us with many questions. Did Apple care to serve a higher-needs market? If not, why? What machines were Apple’s own engineers using? What did this mean for the future of macOS and Macs in general?

Apple, being Apple, naturally sought to regain control of its narrative and did so with unprecedented transparency and humility. But I can’t help but wonder whether Apple itself fully realizes the implications of its decision to double down on pro hardware. This wasn’t just a product decision, with effects on staffing, component sourcing, and profit margins. It was a decision about the company’s identity. What is our core mission? Who is our audience? Answering those questions (and making sure every employee knows the answer to those questions) is like Running a Company 101. And yet Apple seemed to be confused.

Depending on when the initial decision to sunset the Mac Pro was made, it seems like a lot of this could have been avoided if Apple had utilized its own mission statement. 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.”

Setting all of that aside, I hope Apple realizes that new hardware should only be the beginning. After all, for the most part, pros seem to want a Big Boring Box of Raw Power—a flexible cheese grater of the future. I’m sure Apple will find a way to make it look a little sexier than that, but what remains is that software needs to be the differentiater between the new Mac Pro and a suped up Windows machine. 

In other words, renewing a commitment to professionals involves more than just designing the perfect computer for professionals. It means designing an OS and a software ecosystem for professionals. For example, it’s not enough for Adobe to do cool stuff with the Touch Bar, or for the iPad Pro to act as a Wacom-like tablet input for the Mac. Adobe’s (and other high end software-makers’) products need to integrate with macOS in a way that makes them better and easier to use on a Mac than Windows. It’s Apple’s job to make that possible and to provide incentive for companies to put resources into it. 

So, Apple. Expand your Mac software teams. Fix the Mac App Store. Make sure some of that Workflow love makes it to the Mac. Focus on improving iCloud’s stability and features, because collaboration and remote work are the future and because RAW photographs aren’t getting any smaller (and your storage tiers are not friendly to even amateur photographers). 

Look, you may not be Apple Computer anymore but you have reaffirmed that you are Apple, a company that makes personal computers (among other things), and that your audience is everybody, and that you want to be the best. So do that. 


Larder Blog Interview

Larder Blog Interview

The only interview I’ve ever given was in middle school, to my local newspaper, after winning a spelling bee (ironically, the reporter spelled my last name wrong). So I was super excited when Belle Beth Cooper asked me if she could interview me for Larder’s “Making it” series. In the interview I talk a bit about my background and the advice that I would give beginning iOS developers today.

Give the Girls a Chance: Support the San Diego Girl Scouts

You have 4 days to help a whole bunch of girls in San Diego learn to code.

Actually, that’s not quite true. You really only have 3 days, and it’s not just “learning to code” in that shallow, “everybody should learn to code” boot camp sense. This is a full-fledged curriculum. It teaches math, physics, programming, product management and marketing through the creation of an adorable cookie-themed video game. It will undoubtedly strengthen the girls’ collaboration skills and give them a sense of what it takes to bring a real game to market.

There’s something for all skill levels: beginners can work using Scratch, while more advanced learners can work on porting the game to iOS, Android and the web.

Some of the girls can’t afford to participate. The program needs a meeting space, computers, dev accounts, and teachers. As of the writing of this post, they have a little under $16,000 left to raise. And with Kickstarter, it’s all or nothing. For as little as $5, you can be a part of empowering a group of girls by giving them the opportunity to gain valuable skills and experience.

I was never a Girl Scout. But if this program had been available to me as a kid, I dang well would have been.

So buy 5 boxes of Tagalongs and Samoas to support your local troop and then hop over to the Marshmallow Run Kickstarter. You’ll be helping improve the tech industry by ensuring its next generation of developers and entrepreneurs is as diverse as its customers.