Three appearances this week: Mac Roundtable Episode 224 all about WWDC, SMR Podcast Episode 212, and Daily Tech News Show with Tom Merrit Episode 2249. If that’s not enough, here’s my ScreenCasts Online tutorial on Home Inventory: screencastsonline.com/mac/show/0455/. My top 5 iPhone apps: TimeScroller, Fitbit, Pocket Casts and Lumin. Allister Jenks brings us the best alternative to Photoshop. Kirschen Seah from FreeRangeCoder.com tells us about the ProStrap Camera Wrist Straps from prostrap.com/DeluxeBelt and prostrap.com/TwoPointGrip. In Chit Chat Across the Pond Donald Burr Otaku no Podcast joins us to give us a developer’s view of the WWDC announcements.
Hi this is Allison Sheridan of the NosillaCast Mac Podcast, hosted at Podfeet.com, a technology geek podcast with an EVER so slight Macintosh bias. Today is Sunday June 8, 2014 and this is show number 474. Well I’ve been pretty darn busy this week! I thought when I retired I’d just lazy around all the time but that’s sure not the case! With the big announcements on Monday from WWDC, I decided we needed a new episode of the Mac Roundtable, so Katie Floyd, John F Braun, Bart and I got together to record Episode 224 all about WWDC. It was a great discussion and I learned a lot so I think you’ll like it.
Then the SMR Podcast guys were nice enough to have me come on and record with them – about what you might ask? WWDC! It was a different kind of show because I had to put it in context of where things have caught up to Android, maybe are behind Windows Phone, or ahead in some other areas. Rod, Chris and Robb were cool and even pretended to be interested. I put a link in the shownotes to SMR Podcast Episode 212 if you want to give a listen.
Let’s see, next I was on the Daily Tech News Show with Tom Merrit for episode 2249 which is always a blast! We had a great discussion about the battle for our sympathies going on between Verizon and Netflix. Check that out over at dailytechnewsshow.com.
You think I’m done, right? Heck no! I also did two new screencasts for Don McAllister’s ScreenCasts Online! This week he published my shows about a really cool application called Home Inventory from binaryformations.com. It runs on your Mac and lets you inventory your belongings for insurance purposes and other disasters. The iOS show was about two free companion apps that let you use your iPhone to scan barcodes and take pictures for easy entry into Home Inventory, and a mobile backup program that lets you put your entire inventory on your iPad or iPhone. If you want to watch these videos you’ll need to subscribe to ScreenCasts Online over at screencastsonline.com. I’ll alert you when the ScreenCasts Online magazine comes out too, if you’d rather watch them there and get more content from Don and the other contributors. Well I’m exhausted!!!
In other news, we’re giving Bart a week off so that Donald Burr can come in and explain to us what the big changes announced at WWDC mean to Apple’s development environment. During the show, Apple announced an entirely new programming language called Swift, and I think you’ll enjoy hearing what Donald has to say about it.
But speaking of Bart, over the last what has it been, 5? 6? 7 years he’s been contributing to the show, many people have asked how they can support him for all he has presented on the NosillaCast. Several times people have tried to take up a donation to get him to Macworld so everyone could meet him. Well there’s finally a way to contribute to him on a value for value model. He has started a Patreon account for his “Let’s Talk” podcast series, Let’s Talk Apple and Let’s Talk Photography. Patreon is this cool service where you pledge (like a patron of the arts) a certain amount of money per month or per show, and you can cap how much per month so the person running the show can’t suddenly make 20 10-minute episodes. You don’t have to donate a lot of money, even a dollar a show will go a long way if a lot of people enjoy his content.
Bart’s two shows are fantastic, but even if you don’t listen to his shows over there, you’ve gotten gobs of awesomeness on Chit Chat Across the Pond from him, so go throw him a few dollars a month on Patreon for all of his efforts. His Patreon page is at patreon.com/ltpod – and by the way, LTPod stands for Lets Talk Podcasts.
This week I was helping a buddy of mine with some audio problems with his podcast. He was doing some pretty complex shenanigans that could have been much simpler. One thing I wanted to show him was how to use iTunes to transcode his uncompressed audio files into mp3s and at the same time throw in the ID3 tags which tell pod catchers about the show, things like who created it, whether it’s clean, and the album artwork. I had him on Skype where he was screensharing to me, and as I showed him the different steps like how to set it put to be a mono file with the right bit rate, I noticed he was taking screenshots. When we were all done, I told him he could toss the screenshots because I had just emailed him a Clarify document with all the steps! Ok, technically it was originally created in the old ScreenSteps Desktop but today I would do it in Clarify. The cool thing is that a document I created for my Podcasting on Podcasting series so many years ago was still useful and I didn’t have to recreate a thing.
I can’t recommend Clarify from clarify-it.com enough for helping yourself, your friends, your family and your co-workers to learn how to do something AND to not bug you to explain it a second time! Check out the free beta and have some fun.
Chit Chat Across the Pond
Disclaimer: I have been traveling all week on business, with very limited access to bandwidth. I was able to stream the keynote, and of course I read all of the various Apple blogs, even the “rumors” ones, as well as the public portions of Apple.com. I have NOT had a chance to review any of the private/developer-only parts of the developer website, nor have I had a chance yet to install and try out the Yosemite or iOS 8 betas. Therefore, everything I talk about here is all based on publicly-available information, and I am NOT violating any NDAs or anything like that.
This is the biggest Apple Keynote since the introduction of the iPhone. Yes, a TON of cool stuff got announced. But more importantly Apple has started to change some of its paradigms. I felt like a kid in a candy store all the way through it – not just because I’m a developer and I get to play with all these new technologies, but also from a user’s standpoint, because this will open up the door for all sorts of cool stuff.
But this year’s WWDC was particularly special because we are starting to see Apple do something that we would have never thought they would: allow us more access into the walled garden.
“Among his last advice he had for me, and for all of you, was to never ask what he would do. ‘Just do what’s right,’” Cook said. Jobs wanted Apple to avoid the trap that Walt Disney Co. (DIS) fell into after the death of its iconic founder, Cook said, where “everyone spent all their time thinking and talking about what Walt would do.”
Well we are definitely starting to see Tim Cook’s vision of Apple.
But they didn’t tear down the walls and give us completely unfettered access to the garden. Instead, they took the time to study the problem and think up a solution that would give people most of what they wanted, but without compromising their ideals (security, protecting battery life, etc.) So, it’s a controlled access that covers the most common use cases. I’m calling it the “Checkpoint Charlie” paradigm.
Take multitasking for example. When iOS first came out, it didn’t have multitasking. Everybody complained and pointed out that, well, Android could do it. And yes, it could. But it came with a huge performance penalty. Instead, the guys at Apple asked themselves “what do people mean when they say they want multitasking?” and they came up with the most common use cases, and came up with a way to allow app developers to multitask in a controlled manner to satisfy those specific use cases.
Android’s “do whatever you want” policy is certainly very powerful. It lets you do some really cool things. But it is inherently risky from a security standpoint. They do have a security mechanism but it is both very coarse grained (all or nothing) and is flawed.
For me the three big paradigm breaking announcements from WWDC are:
Removes one of my main annoyances with iCloud: the way apps’ data is locked in its own sandbox. Now it operates in a more Dropbox-like fashion, basically one giant area where you can freely store whatever and organize it however you wish. Not quite a “filesystem for iOS” but pretty darn close.
Apps can now offer their functionality as part of other apps, including projecting their own UI. Limited, but covers all the common use cases.
* Safari Extensions
* Share Providers
* Today Screen Widgets
The way they do this is ingenious. Rather than have one app be able to directly inject its code into another app (and thus gain complete access to it) instead apps go through an intermediate layer called XPC (a technology that originated in OS X that they brought over a couple iOS versions ago.) It acts as a “buffer” or middleman between the two. But the user is always in control – e.g. if you don’t want a certain app’s functionality on the Today Screen, you can switch it off individually. Similarly if you don’t want an app to show up in the share screen, you can turn it off. You can even change the order that they appear in.
Finally there’s Swift. This is really exciting. Objective-C (which is based on C) has been the de facto language to write apps in since back in the NeXT days, and as such, it carries with it a lot of baggage. It’s powerful, yes, but it also gives you the tools to easily shoot yourself in the foot if you’re not careful. The compiler does try and warn you when you’re doing something not kosher, but in general it follows a “trust the programmer, he/she (usually) knows what they’re doing” rule.
Why is it so cool/how is it better/more secure/etc.? Basically it mitigates or eliminates a lot of ways in which you can write code that behaves incorrectly, which could lead to crashes or worse, security breaches.
* Type safety. Swift strictly enforces types of variables. This brings both safety and optimization.
* If statements require braces. Eliminates GOTO FAIL type bugs.
* Optional values – a real way of representing “no value”
* Disallows overflow.
* REPL, aka Read-Eval-Print-Loop. Strictly speaking this one doesn’t make the language more secure, but it does make it much more friendly to experimentation and learning. You can create a Playground, which is a space where you can type in code and get instantaneous feedback as to how the output is affected if you make a given change, etc. A really great way of learning.
Apple has published a free ebook, “The Swift Programming Language,” that describes the language in depth. Not really meant for beginners, but if you know even a little about computer programming in any language, it makes for a fascinating read. There’s also a pretty good tutorial.
That’s going to wind this up for this week, many thanks to our sponsor for helping to pay the bills, Blue Mango Learning at bluemangolearning.com makers of Clarify. Don’t forget to send in your Dumb Questions, comments and suggestions by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow me on twitter and app.net @podfeet. Check out the NosillaCast Google Plus Community too – lots of fun over there! If you want to join in the fun of the live show, head on over to podfeet.com/live on Sunday nights at 5pm Pacific Time and join the friendly and enthusiastic NosillaCastaways. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.