By Neven Mrgan.
By Neven Mrgan.
Underscore David Smith:
I haven’t been able to define what is acceptable in a manner that comes anywhere close to the importance I think this topic demands. Too often I am left with just an I’ll know it when I see it definition.
I like what he comes up with, and it’s probably a good sign that it overlaps substantially with fair use’s core considerations.
This week: WWDC reactions.
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Craig Hockenberry on Apple’s newfound public confidence:
With this confidence, we’re starting to see some important cultural change in the company.
I watched the WWDC keynote on Monday, and I’ve been reading and listening to the reactions to it since then. I’ve noticed that most of the commentary hasn’t used the word design very much. This is a big contrast to last year, when iOS 7 had everyone talking about design. But I’d say there were more design changes to both iOS and OS X this year than last.
Agreed. Design is about making hard decisions, not painting the result.
After last year’s WWDC, I argued in Fertile Ground that iOS 7 was a huge opportunity for developers: with so much change required for established apps to remain competitive, anyone making a new app had a big advantage and a great chance of establishing a foothold. Established markets were plowed over and shaken up, leaving opportunity.
This year, the opportunity is different, but even bigger. With iOS 8’s new Extensions, entire categories of apps that were previously impossible are now possible. Rather than shaking up the existing apps, Apple has created vast new markets that are currently empty.
But existing apps were all written by people like me who have been solidifying the assumption in our minds over our entire iOS careers that these features simply aren’t and never will be possible on iOS. We never thought we’d get these. It’s going to take a while before we internalize these new abilities and forget the old restrictions.
The first amazing, forehead-smacking innovations with iOS 8 won’t come from us: they’ll come from people who are coming to iOS development from this point forward, never having known a world with the old restrictions.
It’s a great time to be an iOS developer.
Underscore David Smith nails the difference with this WWDC:
This year I head into a busy summer overwhelmed in the best possible way with amazing opportunities, not with obligations that I need to adapt to.
It’s a completely different vibe — for the better.
As the week progressed, something else quickly became clear.
Apple’s tone — or perhaps their spirit — was more than just confidence. It was also about cooperation. The spirit of WWDC 2014 was about doing things together.
A common theme, especially with Extensions and the new Photos API, is that developers can now do many things on the same playing field as Apple. They’re elevating us to first-class citizens in many more ways and places than before.
We had the pleasure of joining John Gruber and Scott Simpson in front of a live audience this week at WWDC. It was a lot of fun, and a great show, I think.
Brent Simmons on WWDC:
It was like the greatest Christmas ever — and then Santa Claus hung out so you could take selfies with him.
After years of writing Objective-C, I was finally confident enough in my skills and understanding of the language to write and open-source a general-purpose model layer, FCModel, as a lightweight Core Data alternative that’s closer to SQL. It has attracted a small but solid audience, with many invaluable contributions and bugfixes.
Apparently, it somewhat works with Swift. But I don’t plan to port it in the near future.
Swift is a new language with new behaviors and, most importantly, new standards and expectations. I expect to accumulate enough Swift knowledge and experience to be able to make something like FCModel for it, but:
By that time, SwiftModel (or whatever) may not need to exist. Core Data in iOS 8 and 10.10 matched some of its major advantages, so maybe we’ll all just use that. Or maybe someone else will come up with a better SQLite model implementation for Swift by then.
I just wrote a huge app with FCModel, so I’m sticking with it for a while in Objective-C, but I don’t intend to port it to Swift soon, or in a recognizable or compatible form.
Many already believe that TestFlight spells the end for HockeyApp. But looking at what we know so far about TestFlight, I’m not so sure that’s the case.
I’d take a more pessimistic view: while Hockey still has some advantages over New TestFlight, many of them will probably be neutralized over the next year, and the remaining advantages are minor or unnecessary for most developers.
If I were the Hockey team — or my former frequent sponsor, Crashlytics — I’d hold off on all development on iOS and Mac beta testing and crash reporting, and start to expand as quickly as possible into other developer services that Apple is unlikely to do. Because as soon as Apple matches the core features, they’ll want to have some compelling reasons why developers should keep their accounts open.
I agree with Aaron Hillegass, but only short-term. If you want to develop for iOS in the next year or two, you should probably know Objective-C. But in a few years, I don’t think it’ll matter if you only learn Swift.
Swift is so young that even Apple has only shipped one app — the WWDC app — that contains any Swift code so far. I talked to many Apple engineers last week who hadn’t even learned of Swift’s existence until the rest of us did. The language is bleeding-edge and likely to change rapidly over the next couple of years, and more importantly, the frameworks and commonly accepted best practices are likely to change dramatically over the next decade. In time, we’re going to look back in horror at the Swift code we write this year.
But that doesn’t mean that Objective-C proficiency will be a requirement for iOS developers for very long. Plenty of people write plenty of apps every day in Objective-C without knowing most of C or any C++.1
The time will come when knowing Objective-C will be like knowing C, C++, or assembly — it’ll be a plumbing layer beneath your application code that almost all working developers will never need to know or interact with. And I bet that time is less than five years away — possibly just two or three.
For whatever it’s worth, in my entire former career and all of my iOS apps so far — even Overcast, which uses a lot of low-level Core Audio code — I’ve never shipped a single C++ file. ↩︎
This week: Casey learns web programming, App Bundles as upgrade pricing, HFS+ (of course), Metal, and the next Apple TV as a disruptive game console.
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Erin, and all the other public school teachers in America, goes through hell and back every single day in order to enrich the lives of America’s future. She puts up with more bullshit than any one human should have to. Erin does so for a pittance of a salary, no thanks from parents, and often times without the support of her administration.
My mother and sister are both teachers, and this is spot-on.
It’s an incredibly difficult, underpaid, underappreciated, yet vitally important job that everyone — parents, administrators, the government — thinks they could do better than the people who actually do it.
CMD+Space’s 100th episode is simply fantastic, with a lot of very intelligent commentary from Myke about the present and future of podcasting.
While I’m recommending excellent Myke Hurley podcasts, definitely add this one: Underscore David Smith joins Myke and Federico to give one of the most well-thought-out, reasonable, level-headed looks at the App Store that I’ve heard in a long time.
Guy English, someone actually experienced enough in real-world 3D programming to explain Metal, explains Metal.
Gruber at his best.
In The Talk Show Live at WWDC 2014, I joked about college not being necessary if you thought you didn’t need it.
Attempts at humor are often missed. In this case, a lot of people missed it, which was my fault. To clarify, I was joking.
Go to college if you’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity. I did, I learned a lot (both academically and socially), and I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world. Not everyone needs college, but you should go if you can.
My philosophy about being a C student and not needing to do 80% of the work should also be taken lightly. That strategy works well if you want to follow a path like mine after college: working for small companies that care less about your GPA, or that you can convince to hire you by other means (showing impressive personal projects, advanced skills, etc.). But my GPA was so bad that no big tech company — not Microsoft, not Apple, not Amazon, and definitely not Google — would even consider hiring me. (I tried.)
I was a C student because I was (and am) a slacker and lacked the self-discipline to do better, not because it’s the smartest path to take. Performing better opens more doors.
We reorganized our ad-sales operation last month, and now we’re back in business: if you’d like to sponsor our show, get in touch.
We even have one spot open for the show we’re recording tonight, so we’ll give you a great price on it if you can act quickly.
Finally, thank you. We put a lot into this show, we’re very proud of it, and sponsors make it all possible.
This week: Are games more like apps or movies? Then the Amazon Fire Phone, Mayday vs. Apple stores, Continuity, and playing to your strengths.
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Tony “Tonx” Konecny:
But in certain arts, crafts, relationships, and acts of creation, the work of reaching beyond 95% pays transcendent dividends. A figure skater pushing just 1% harder, a runway model with just a bit more flourish in her walk, or the chef hitting just the right balance between contrasting flavors… All can deliver outsized returns of awe and beauty.
Coffee brewing is not this kind of an art.
No barista champion, brewer’s cup finalist, supercomputer controlled precision-engineered coffee contraption, or Michelin starred chef is going to add any outsized transcendence to a cup of coffee that you could not also achieve with the same beans and a modest level of meticulousness. …
I think we are doing a disservice to coffee when we make brewing out to be more magical than it is.
Last month, I wrote, “The glory days of podcast networks are behind us.”
A lot of people have asked me about that since then. Many have argued that I’m wrong because some podcast networks are still good or useful, but I hadn’t argued otherwise. I meant exactly what I wrote: that podcast networks, as we know them today, have peaked, much like blog networks did years ago. Like blog networks, they’ll probably always be around as long as podcasts exist, but the era has ended in which being a member of a podcast network is the dominant, default, stupid-if-you-don’t-do-it method of having a popular, well-produced, profitable podcast.
Podcast networks are like record labels: they promise exposure, tools, distribution, and money. But as the medium and infrastructure mature, their services are often unnecessary, outdated, and a bad deal for publishers.
Writers don’t need blog networks to be successful today because of two major shifts since blogging began:
Networks primarily make sense before those conditions are reached. Podcasting has made major progress in both areas in the last few years, and will likely progress even further in the near future.
Some roles provided by networks are useful to podcasters, but there’s no reason that these roles must be tied to their membership in a network — podcasters are better off having services available that can be hired and fired at will without having to move or lose their shows, the same way web hosts, designers, and salespeople are hired.
Podcasters should own their shows and have contract services available to help, and their choices of such services should be neither apparent to their listeners nor part of their shows’ identities.
Today, ATP’s website is hosted by Squarespace. Its files are hosted by Libsyn. Its ads are sold by Standard. Its domain is registered at Gandi. It’s edited in Logic. If you listen, how many of these were you aware of? Do you really need to care?
None of these names appear in the artwork or domain name. Any of these can change at any time without bothering the listeners. We’ve owned the show, relationships, and audience access from the start, and we intend to keep it that way.
And I’ll do what I can to help and promote this as the way forward for everyone.
Update: About 5by5.
Since last night’s post, I’ve had about a hundred people on Twitter accuse me of implicitly dismissing or denying the role of 5by5 in making our podcast popular, since two of us previously had shows on 5by5.
First, I didn’t mention 5by5 in the post because it wasn’t relevant to the point I was making: that joining a podcast network, as we know them today, no longer needs to be the dominant way to make a successful, profitable podcast. I don’t know how many times I need to repeat this, so here’s one more try.
5by5 will also be fine. Not only are they one of the few midsized networks that I think will still be around in five years, but Dan’s a smart guy, and he sees the same shifts that I’m seeing. That’s probably why he split his ad-sales operation into a standalone, non-network service.
People want to find secret drama in the end of my 5by5 show, but the truth simply isn’t that interesting. I decided to end the show for the same reasons I said at the time: it was getting repetitive and declining in quality, and I didn’t want to keep doing it until it really sucked.
When we got together and did Neutral, we set it up independently because it simply wasn’t very hard. I was already selling sponsorships for my blog, and we hosted it on Squarespace with very little effort. When we accidentally pivoted into a tech show, we kept the same setup. It wasn’t an explicit decision at the time not to join a network — the need just didn’t arise.
5by5 offered something that I needed badly in 2010: a podcasting setup where the administrative work was done for me. I prepared an outline of topics, I showed up on Skype, Dan showed up a few minutes late, and we talked through my outline for an hour. Afterward, I added the relevant links to the show notes, and then my job was done.
It might have sounded like “my” show, but it wasn’t — 5by5 owned and controlled everything about it. It was another 5by5 show, but with me as the co-host.1 I was paid a small flat fee every week, but the main value to me in doing the show was exposure. I was never told how many listeners the show had or how much money it earned.
5by5’s work has a lot of value, especially if you don’t want to do any of that work. It has even more value if Dan’s the host of your show, since then you need to do even less work, and you get the value of having a great host.
But everyone’s better off with more options to publish in a medium. If podcast networks continue to dominate the creation and distribution of good podcasts, we’ll have very few good podcasts. Networks don’t scale. And people are better off choosing their web host and ad salespeople on their merits, rather than because they’re stuck with the ones they started their show with. Today, podcasters have far more network-less options for services like these than we did in 2010.
A significant portion of my current audience came from my 5by5 show, and some portion of them certainly found the show first because it was on 5by5. But I also had an audience from here, Tumblr, and Instapaper for years before that. I don’t know how many people listened to my show because they knew me already or because they found it on 5by5, but I do know that being on a network doesn’t boost “discoverability” as much as people think it does.
Discoverability is overrated. The real way to get more listeners is to make a great, relevant show. The best content tends to be found, but it takes hard work and dedication. Each episode of ATP takes about 10–12 person-hours of work,2 and we’ve been doing it every week for the last 70 weeks. Our show is successful primarily because we put a lot of effort into it and have chosen a topic that fits our existing audience and the current podcast market well.
Having a “built-in audience” from two 5by5 shows didn’t sustain Neutral. It peaked at about 1,000 listeners — when we ended Neutral, the audience for the weeks-old ATP was already 15 times larger and skyrocketing.
Having a “built-in audience” from a 5by5 show, Tumblr, Instapaper, and Marco.org didn’t sustain The Magazine. I sold it because it was cratering under my ownership and losing subscribers alarmingly quickly. I was about to shut it down, but Glenn wanted to try running it, so I sold it to him for much less than you’d probably assume.
Having a “built-in audience” from a 5by5 show, Tumblr, Instapaper, and Marco.org gave Bugshot a respectable launch, but the initial spike fell to nothing, and even making it free a few months later didn’t help long-term.
Neutral simply wasn’t as good as ATP and wasn’t as relevant to the audience. The Magazine under my leadership was subjectless, unfocused, and irrelevant to most of my audience. Bugshot was only useful to a few people, and I didn’t put much time into it. All of these had the benefits of a “built-in audience” to give them an initial spike, but none succeeded because they simply weren’t good enough.
Podcast networks don’t guarantee success or profit. The best networks can sometimes give you a head start and help you get found sooner, but the quality and relevance of your show is what sustains it, not the brand name on the artwork.
5by5 certainly played a significant role in growing my audience, but it was far from the only factor.
The running “It’s your show” joke isn’t entirely a joke.
Recording needs about 2.5 hours from each of the 3 hosts, plus 3–5 hours of editing, sponsor preparation, show notes, and publishing. ↩︎
Sounds about right.
This week, we try to put Google I/O in the parking lot so we can talk about Million Dollar Homepage.
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Along with iPhoto, it’ll be replaced with the upcoming iCloud-backed Photos app on Yosemite and iOS 8.
This is bad news for people who liked the organizational features of Aperture, as they’ll probably not be replaced. But it might be good news for many people, like me, who wanted Aperture’s powerful RAW adjustment tools but with simpler iPhoto-like management and iOS-device sync.1 The hole left in Aperture’s absence will encourage Apple to expose more of those great lossless editing tools into Photos. (iPhoto has always quietly offered some lossless RAW editing, but nowhere near the power of Aperture’s.)
Plus, Aperture has been plagued with bugs, poor performance, slow updates, and extreme neglect for most of its life. It defined a useful category, then let the better-executed, better-maintained Lightroom eat its lunch. I’ve used many versions of each for extended periods, and Lightroom is the better app by far, especially in performance, editing tools, and adjustment quality. Sure, the interface is a bit weird, but so is Aperture’s.
Apple discontinuing a mediocre, neglected, poorly competing pro app to focus on a much better consumer app is a clear win for everyone.
Recent versions of Aperture and iPhoto have been able to share the same library to approximate this balance, but you still needed to launch Aperture to do advanced edits — and recent versions of iPhoto haven’t been very good. ↩︎
This is what you are to Facebook: Data points. Test subjects. Users. Eyeballs. Demographics.
The saddest part is that they could have reached the same conclusion with a read-only analysis, yet they apparently didn’t think to do so. This method was probably easier, user emotions be damned.
It’s tragic that the company employs so many extremely talented people and absorbs so many startups, yet chooses to apply this massive amount of talent and resources to… Facebook.