Some thoughts about my new laptop about two weeks in, which I gather I’m supposed to hate, but which so far I persist in kind of liking. I think it’s a little bit about expectations and what’s being replaced. So I got the higher-end 13 inch MacBook Pro, with the touch strip, with a bigger SSD, but without the chip upgrades. It’s replacing a 2012 15 inch MBP that was definitely showing its age, with a screen that ghosts and dwindling battery life.
I wasn’t going to write this, because it’s not like the Internet has a dearth of people writing about Steve Jobs who never knew him or interacted with him in any way. I wrote it anyway. I’ve watched the first few minutes of the keynote introducing the iPhone several times. It amazes me – both as a seminal moment of technology and as a presentation. Jobs starts of by saying he’s been looking forward to this day for two-and-a-half years, and that he’s been fortunate to work on multiple “revolutionary” products in his career.
Book Satus Still patching the Shoulda chapter together. Realized yesterday that Machinist is in the middle of a version 2 upgrade, which, along with some factory_girl changes probably means I have some tweaking to do in that chapter. I haven’t run the buy links in a while. You can get the beta ebook and pre-order from Pragmatic and the book is also available from Amazon. WindyCityRails Early Bird pricing for WindyCityRails is scheduled to end today.
Status Not much to tell, really. Spent some time getting RVM set up, since I think I’ll need it to manage simultaneously building the Rails 2 and Rails 3. Now I have a working version of the startup appendix that uses Rails 3 and Devise. I can’t speak to using Devise in practice yet, but the immediate goal of making the setup less complicated was definitely accomplished. The big question now is how much to support Rails 2 in the walk-through chapters.
Book status Still writing the legacy chapter. Totally coincidentally, Michael Feathers, author of Working Effectively With Legacy Code, just wrote on an issue similar to what I’m dealing with right now: The Bad Code Kata. I imagine Feathers had a similar problem when writing his book about legacy code. An Apple Comment A Day So Apple is apparently holding a press conference Friday about iPhone 4, although they haven’t officially confirmed that it’s about the antenna issue.
Book Status Beta 4 should be available this week, or at the latest Monday, apparently we’re working around people’s vacation schedules. It will have two new chapters, and some error fixes and tweaks around the book. Next is on to Beta 5. In status news that shouldn’t interest you much, the end of the quarter meant the end of my first Pragmatic pay period. And apparently Pragmatic pays as soon as possible, rather than waiting 30 or 90 days after the end of the pay cycle.
It’s kind of hard for me to believe that it’s fifteen years ago this week that I reported for my three-month internship deep in the research department at Apple Computer, down in One Infinite Loop. It was 1995, and it’s beyond understatement to say that Apple was a totally different place then. (I just read an article by a tech pundit who really should have known better that Apple’s marketing has always been great.
Yesterday… Gave my talk at Chicago Ruby. The video is already online – yay Chicago Ruby team. I was pleased with it, actually, I did pretty much what I hoped to do, except that I thought the repetition joke would get a bigger laugh. In other news Yehuda Katz posted slides on another Rails 3 talk: dashing to the finish. Speaking of people on stage, Steve Jobs was interviewed on stage at the D conference yesterday.
Top Story JRuby 1.5 is out. Highlights include improved Rails 3 support, better support for Windows, better FFI support, better startup time (yay!) and a lot of other tweaks and fixes. Book Update Still Cucumbering, hope to finish today. The book is still on sale, of course. And I’d still love to see more comments in the forum. I’ll be talking at Chicago Ruby on June 1, exact topic TBD (let me know if you have a preference), but I’m leaning toward talking about how to avoid test problems and write good, robust tests.
Top Story and Book Update I have sample cover designs. I don’t think I can show them yet, but I’ve got ‘em, I like them, and hopefully we’ll have picked one to show shortly. Tab dump Not a whole lot today: Here’s a look at the current status of using a non-blocking MySQL driver with Rails. The promise here is for significantly faster database access. Two stories that are related to projects that I worked on back in my EdTech days:
Top Story iPads. Lots of them popping up in and around work. Probably some more coherent impressions coming later. Wait, once again, Twitter has a big announcement after I start writing this. This time, they are going to start placing ads in the Twitter stream in various ways to be announced today. My quick reactions: a) I long suspected this day was coming, b) if the ads in clients are any guide, they aren’t particularly burdensome, c) implementation details will decide how irritating this is.
Top Story For a while, it looked like the top story was going to be Apple’s new developer Rule 3.3.1, described here by John Gruber. More on that in a second. But the real top story is the news that Twitter has bought Tweetie, intending to rebrand it as Twitter for iPhone, and dropping the price to a low, low, free. Eventually, it will be the core of Twitter for iPad.
Book Update Not much to report. Still messing with the integration test chapter. Also still waiting for cover possibilities. Tab Dump Continuing the RailsEnvy story from yesterday, today Jason Seifer posts some more details. This essay is more personal. I wish Jason nothing but good things. In a somewhat ironic counterpoint to Gregg and Jason writing about Rails envy, it was widely reported today that Justin Long thinks the “I’m a Mac” ads, of which he is the right-hand half, are over and done.
iPad, iPad, iPad. Five Random Thoughts Given that Apple’s business model for most of the past 30 years has been not to compete on feature lists, but rather to pare down features in the name of user experience, that a tech analyst would at least pause before proclaiming the iPad to be a failure because it doesn’t have feature X. I don’t think the iWork stuff got enough attention.
I’m trying to figure out exactly why I’m so psyched by the Apple iPhone SDK announcement. The basic announcement wasn’t a surprise, and I don’t even own an iPhone. I did, however, dig out my Cocoa programming book and start studying. Further thoughts: The tools themselves seemed somewhat slicker than what was expected – a lot of Mac developers were pleasantly surprised that Interface Builder was included (although apparently it’s not in the first beta).
Haven’t done an Apple post in a while, just a couple of pregame things I want to get down… I would not have projected that the remaining three music companies would go DRM free on all other services just to spite Apple. It’s probably their smartest business move in a while, at least for some definition of smart, but it’s not exactly consumer friendly. It does make the Amazon store pretty compelling though.
Naturally, I did have a thought or two about the new Apple products and the other announcements this week: While I certainly understand why somebody who had purchased an iPhone early would be annoyed by the price cut, I did find it kind of funny that many of the same analysts who said the iPhone would never sell at its original price were then jumping on Apple for dropping the price.
I think I’ll have to join in the general chorus of the underwhelmed. Bullet points: The new desktop and finder sure look shiny. The dock stacks do look kind of useful, and having a dedicated downloads folder strikes me as a classic kind of Apple UI move. Having the finder be visually similar to iTunes strikes me as, on balance, a good idea. And, although I don’t find Cover Flow tremendously useful in iTunes, I can see a place for it in the Finder.
Couple thoughts on Apple’s first foray into the brave world of non-DRM’d music: I think the most of the user experience in iTunes is handled nicely. There had been some worry about this – I seem to recall some speculation before the EMI announcement that Apple would only take out DRM if they could do it store-wide, and keep things simple. Anyway, the iTunes Plus branding and the simple option to either always or never see the plus songs seems to work just fine.
Three posts that caught my eye today. Ruby School Gregory Brown over on O’Reilly net has an article about using Ruby in Computer Science courses, at least in later algorithm classes. It’s not a bad argument, but I think it’d be more convincing if the Ruby example was a little cleaner and easier to read compared to the pseudo-code. Let’s see… The last time I had to care about this issue was about eight years ago when my grad institution was going through a somewhat controversial revamp of the CS curriculum.
It’s true – the way to get comments on your blog is to mention Apple… I do something like one substantive post in three months, and then two apple posts in 48 hours, and bang! Four comments within a day. I’m surprised, not least because I really wasn’t sure anybody was out there. Anyway, interesting points have been made, and I thought I’d pull them up to either agree, or whine defensively.
What is it about us tech fanboys and Apple… I’ve always found them interesting, even when I wasn’t a regular Mac user. Infuriating, sometimes. But interesting. So here’s another thing about Apple, circa 1995… That was right about the end of something like a two-year period where Apple was way ahead on internet integration and didn’t really make anything out of it. By the time the internet really started to escape out of academia, the Windows world was well on it’s way to catching up, and by the time it all really went mainstream, Macs would be a fading memory.
As I may have mentioned here, back in 1995 I spent three months as a summer intern at Apple HQ in Cupertino. I was buried deep in the educational technology research group so, trust me, I didn’t work on anything you’ve heard of. It was a fun summer, though. They stuffed about 15 of us, a mix of grad students and contractors, in a room that was really long and narrow.
Since what every tech blog reader needs is another round up of Apple’s Showtime event… Overall, nice incremental stuff, perhaps a little disappointing to those who were expecting a radical new mainline iPod. New Shuffle: This is getting close to being jewelry, actually is starting to look like a cufflink to me. New Nano: Smaller, bigger drive, better battery life, colors. Solid incremental upgrade. New iPod: A very small incremental upgrade.