30 Weekdays of Commits

I’ve got some ideas about what I want 2015 to mean for me. From a professional standpoint, I have some development goals: Refresh and improve my PHP skills, create a couple of sites that I have wanted to create,1 and do more work on a couple of app ideas that I’ve had.

I haven’t had the chance to work with Codeignitor yet. A lot of my PHP history has been procedural instead of object oriented, and I haven’t worked with a framework like Codeignitor. So, that is one goal of mine that’s near the top of my list.

There are also a couple of scripts and processes that I want to provide for both myself and others but need to create some cleaner code for. For instance, I’ve wanted to create a new system to track my timesheet during the week. Thus far, I’ve been tracking it all in Numbers so I can graph the information, see my progression of hours each week, and how many hours I might be ahead/behind. But I’d like something a little more long-term than a spreadsheet plus the capability for more advanced reports.

This is all in addition to the apps I’m working on. I have some updates coming to Countr that I’d like to develop, plus some other app ideas I’m working on for Random Projects.

All-in-all, I’ve got things I can develop. So, I’m glad that I came across Colin Devroe‘s idea for 30 Weekdays of Commits. This is just what I need to get motivated and get back into a heavier coding swing. Starting on Monday, December 22, I’ll be pushing myself to commit code to at least one of the above projects every weekday.2 Who’s joining me?

 


  1. And update my site  

  2. Sorry, most of these will likely be to private repos on Bitbucket.  

Word Count Charts for NaNoWriMo

I was hoping to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. However, due to some priorities, I’ll not be able to do so. I wanted to share these documents, though, in hopes that some might find them useful.

I have tested the chart in Numbers. While I have provided an Excel link, I don’t know how it will work with Excel.

To use, simply update your word count in the “Daily Word Count” column for the proper date. Column “Words Left” shows how many words are left from that date. Column “Amount Ahead/Behind” shows how many words you would need to be ‘on par’ with the goal of 50,000 words for the month. If you’re ahead, it’ll be a negative value (and have a green background).

There’s also a chart at the bottom that shows your overall progress compared to the 50,000 word limit.

I hope you find these useful!

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 9.24.59 PM

Numbers: 

UPDATE: I have removed the Excel link for now. I’ll recreate the file if enough people ask for it. 

Countr, my first app on the App Store

It’s been many months since I last talked about app development. I’m a bit disappointed with myself, personally, and how much I haven’t shared. It’s been a fun experience as I’ve dived into Objective-C, Xcode, and learning how to develop things on my own. Since then, iOS 8 was previewed (and since launched), Swift was introduced as a new programming language, and more APIs and development tool updates have happened across the Apple ecosystem.

Well, I’ll be writing more thoughts about the development process soon. But first, I wanted to talk about the first app I’ve developed through to launch. That is Countr, a simple app to quickly take a count. I had wanted an app to help me take a count when I’m at certain meetings or assemblies. I feel this app does this excellently.

While the app was released in late August, I only just now announced it. Moving to Arizona took up a lot of time. Go figure.

Countr not only helped me learn the development process, but I got a nice overview of the app release process. I’m very grateful for the update to iTunesConnect, which has made it a much more attractive experience when checking on the status of my app.

In upcoming posts, I’ll talk about developing Countr, developing for iOS in general, and some other things that I thought were pretty cool.

I want to thank the few friends that helped beta test Countr before release. I got a lot of good feedback and, while it is a simple app, the others that I’m working on are not as simple. I made sure to use the same process with Countr that I would expect with a larger, complex application. It’s been insightful, and I’m ready to release more apps later this year.

Countr is available for free on the App Store.

My thoughts on multitasking on future iPads

Now that we have seen the new iPhones, my thoughts have started to move ahead to the next likely update: iPads. Typically updated on a yearly cycle, the iPad has continued to receive refinements that continue to perfect the device.

Right now, the iPad lineup is strong with the thin and powerful iPad Air and its smaller sibling, the iPad Mini with Retina. If we’re to make any predictions about what is to come, I think we can safely say the next generation of each of those devices with be iterations on the existing models.1

There’s also something new that is rumored to come with the next iPads (or a future iPad Pro): the option to run two apps side by side. Some have wondered how such a feature could operate. Now, I think I have it figured out.2

On the new iPhone 6, due to the larger screen size, Apple introduced something called “Reachability“. By double-pressing (not clicking) the home button, the top half of the screen moves down to within range of the user’s thumb. This is only possible due to the Touch ID sensor, which can respond simply by a finger being on the home button yet not clicking it.

On an iPhone, this makes sense, as the iPhone originally began as a one-handed device. But what about iPads? They have never been designed for one hand.  The next generation of iPads are rumored to include Touch ID.  Obviously, this could allow for increased security on an Apple, as well as the inclusion of Apple Pay. Could Apple also include a new feature for the double-press interface on the iPad? What could it be? Hmm…


  1. Very rarely does Apple introduce a device and not create an upgraded iteration in the same design.  

  2. Because, obviously, I know these things. Okay, no, I don’t. I’m just guessing. But am I close? I’d love to know!  

Prediction: Apple will hold a spring 2015 event

There aren’t a lot of rumors flying around Apple’s plans for 2015 yet, especially since everyone is busy with iPhone and iPad leaks. But there were two things that I’ve seen that make me think there will be an Apple event sometime this spring.

First, there are the constant rumors about an Apple wearable. Is it ready? Will it launch with a new iPhone? If so, why haven’t we seen any leaks yet? All of those questions keep getting asked each and every week. But because we haven’t seen anything, some feel that we’ll see it launch in early 2015 instead.

But that’s not my main reason for this prediction. Instead, it has to do with Apple’s new Photos app for OS X. Photos for OS X won’t launch until early 2015. I don’t think they would launch something like this without mentioning it at an Apple event, especially as it will replace two big name applications: iPhoto and Aperture.

I expect some kind of event in March/April 2015. Apple will do its usual updates, then talk about software and the Mac, release Photos for OS X, and then go into whatever their main event is about.

A Danger to Liking Everything?

Showing support? Like.

Think something is funny? Like.

Wish your cat looked as funny as that one? Like.

It’s so easy for us to like just about anything and everything on Facebook. Yet, there can be a negative to this, as Adam Oram noted while talking about an article by Mat Honan at Wired:

By reinforcing the Facebook algorithms via likes, you end up begin presented with more of the same. Your Facebook News Feed becomes increasingly niche as you continue to express an interest in the same things through your liking behavior.

As we know, Facebook provides a catered news feed based on what you view and what you like.1 But what will Facebook create for you?

Not only can you create a news feed that interests you, but you can also create one that overwhelms you with information, or one that even can reinforce your bad behavior.

Check out the rest of Adam’s article to read more about the potential impact your likes can have.


  1. How does this algorithm work? Backstrom explained that factors include: how often you interact with a friend, page or public figure; how many likes, shares and comments individual posts have received; how much you have interacted with that kind of post in the past; and whether it’s being hidden and/or reported a lot.” -The Guardian  

“The Apple World, the Android/Samsung World, and the Windows World”

Re/code posted an interview with Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly in which he talked about tablets, computers, and the current tech market. The interview itself is an interesting read, especially to see inside the mind of a CEO whose company has been affected by the global technological shift that we have seen across phones, tablets, and computers over the past few years.

One item that caught my eye was his response to a question about ‘stores within a store’. For a while now, Best Buy has had dedicated areas in their stores for Apple, Samsung, and Windows devices. When asked about those areas, he responded:

What we’ve done is, we’ve made Best Buy the place where customers can discover, understand, these different ecosystems. There’s these giant ecosystems: The Apple world, the Android/Samsung world, the Windows world. And so, for the customers, it’s a very unique opportunity to see it in one place, and in the space of half an hour, to be able to talk to our various specialists, and touch, feel, experience these products.

When it comes to Apple and Microsoft, each has created a very unique and identifiable ecosystem. Interestingly, in his comment, he included Samsung right along with his mention of Android. If you walk into a Best Buy store today, what Android device manufacturer is clearly visible? I’ve only ever seen Samsung with some attention.

I also thought it was an interesting response given how Samsung has come ahead, at least in mindshare, of other Android manufacturers with their devices, including their line of Galaxy devices. For some, when they hear Android, that’s the first thing to come to their minds.

When it comes to operating systems, it very clearly is Apple’s iOS versus Google’s Android. But with the iPhone competing against Samsung’s various Galaxy S phones, it’s easy to see why even Best Buy’s CEO would remark Android’s world as belonging to Samsung.

Spring Cleaning, Tech Style

It’s that time of year where most people go through their homes and clean things up. For me, I’ve felt the need to clean up my tech, too. I don’t mean in a physical way, though that is also important. No, I’m talking about going through all of those extra files and apps that have accumulated over the past year. My goal is to simplify what I’ve got and leave myself with a more clutter-free tech experience that will improve my productivity and help me waste/spend less time on my devices.

Clean Up 

The first thing someone may notice when looking at my iPhone or Mac: I’ve got a few too many apps. I had a bad tendency of grabbing free apps and giving them a test run but not deleting them when I was through. Now, it’s time to clean those up and keep the ones that I still use.

On my Mac, I’ve been using CleanMyMac to help remove unused applications and old data. It’s been a great application that I occasionally run to keep my system clean. It not only removes the .app file but also any data that might be found in ~/Library, too. If I don’t need a certain app anymore, why would I want to keep all of the associated data?

Another big thing I did on my Mac is clean up my desktop. I don’t like a lot of icons cluttering my desktop, so it was about time for me to remove what was there. I’ve now brought it down to one folder that I’ve called “To Sort”. In there, I put the occasion download or screenshot that I don’t have a place for yet (or can’t delete yet). This folder I go through regularly to keep clean. I could probably put it somewhere other than the desktop, but I’ll figure that out later. One folder on the desktop is better than a couple dozen icons.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 5.12.09 PM
So what if I have a lot of apps? They’re organized!

For my iPhone, I’m trying to limit myself to productivity apps, utilities, and games that I will definitely be opening in the next month. While I do make a few exceptions, I’m trying to trim away the extras that I just don’t need. Anything that remains gets organized in my current system: 1 page of utilities and other non-game apps, sorted by category into folders; 1 or 2 pages of games, sorted by type in folders. If I’m still unsure where to put an app, it sits on my last page, a sort of miscellaneous page that I try to clear out regularly.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 5.13.40 PM
I’ve got a few games, too

My newest change, though, is using a mostly clean first page. My goal is to limit this page to apps that I use every day. If there are certain actions that I do repeatedly, I’m putting those into LaunchCenterPro, which has its home on my dock. I don’t want to waste time trying to find something that I need; I’d much rather save time and simplify my workflow.1

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 5.13.14 PM
My much simpler home page

More Cleaning to Come

As I work on my workflow and cleaning up my apps, I’ve got even more to clean up this year.2

First, I’ve got a handful of email accounts. Most are for sites that I used to manage but don’t anymore. I don’t know why I even have some of them still. But I need to take some time and reduce that number of active accounts to just the ones I need.

Second, I’ve got a few websites and services I still run, whether personal like this site or others related to my business, that I need to update and clean up. Those I’ll be systematically going through and updating.

Other things I need to clean up: iPhoto, my Documents and Downloads folders, and (low priority) my contact list.

Got any suggestions for cleaning up your computer or phone this summer? What will you be doing for your spring cleaning? Comment below or tweet me!

 


  1. This is still a work in progress, and my workflow is currently in flux while I create something that works better for me. 

  2. I’ll be talking more about my Mac and iOS workflows in a later post. 

If It Worked For the iPod…

I came across an old post regarding the iPhone that I thought was pretty interesting.

So here’s how I see Apple applying its iPod strategy to the iPhone. At some point the iPhone will expand to two form factors:

  1. A high-end iPhone with the same basic size and price as previous iPhones, but with significant new features. Obvious potential new features would be things like more storage space, more RAM, a faster CPU, an improved (and eventually video-capable) camera, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and superior battery technology.
  2. A new, lower-priced, smaller, and more adorable iPhone, with more or less the same technical specs as the original iPhone. Given that those specs include the 320 × 480 display, I wouldn’t expect something tiny, but remember that the original iPod Mini was “just” 35 percent smaller by volume than the then-current full-sized iPod. Shrink the iPhone’s forehead and chin and make it thinner — maybe a lot thinner — is what I’m thinking. Existing iPhone apps would run just fine on the new device, as it’d have similar, if not identical, CPU performance and RAM to previous full-sized iPhones. Such an iPhone sounds much like the “iPhone Lite” that BusinessWeek reported its source saw.

This is something John Gruber posted in May of 2009 with regard to rumors of a Verizon iPhone. Why it caught my eye is because of the thinking that the iPhone would go the way of the iPod. Except, it wasn’t until 4 years after this post that we were introduced to two iPhone models in one year: the 5s and 5c.

Apple originally introduced just one iPod model. But after a couple of years, it started to get different companions. Now, we look back at the history of the iPod classic, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, iPod touch, and the iPod mini. As the device market matured, Apple was able to create a couple of different devices that, while still being ahead of the competition, offered a larger selection for users to choose from.

I think that’s the direction Apple might be going with the 2 lines. You have one line, the higher-spec, top-of-the-line model. The other, the new c-line, will be more colorful or, as John Gruber said, “more adorable”. Does that mean the c-line is not the best?

Would we say that the iPad mini is less of a device than its larger iPad cousin? Of course not. With the latest updates to the iPad mini and the new iPad Air, both devices are virtually identical except for the screen size. I think the iPhone is just about at a similar level, especially given that the power of the 5c is still mind-blowing compared to phones from just a year or two ago. But it’s still be a great phone, and for some, having a colorful, fun option is more important than having the latest and the greatest.

For years, the iPod was dominant as a music player. While still a popular (and in a way, still the dominant) MP3 player, smartphones have come up and taken a bit of steam out of the iPod’s sails. But when it comes to the iPhone, I think Apple will undoubtedly diversify it’s offerings. It will never be the same way Nokia or Samsung offer a plethora of devices. But Apple has never had to do that, either. And when it comes to the iPhone, like the iPad, having two or three offerings still gives people options when it comes to a new phone.

2014’s iOS Line-Up (My Predictions)

With 2013 behind us, I thought it was time to take a look at what Apple released (in terms of iOS) and what I think Apple will do in 2014.

The first half of 2013 was very quiet with regards to Apple events. Our first public event was WWDC in June, where we finally got a glimpse at what Apple was working on in the software category. After six years of the iPhone, iOS was getting a major facelift, giving a fresh look to one of the most popular mobile operating systems. While supporting older devices like the iPhone 4 would support iOS 7, it was definitely meant to bring in a new future for Apple’s iOS devices.

In the fall, we finally started seeing some hardware, with the announcement of two new iPhones: the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s. The 5c was essentially last year’s iPhone 5 but with new, colorful shells. For those upgrading from an iPhone 4 or earlier, they made an attractive alternative to the otherwise sleek but relatively-basic colors of the 5 and 5s. The 5s, meanwhile, brought a future-thinking iPhone to the market, introducing a 64-bit A7 processor to the iOS line up. Even now, I think people take 64-bit for granted on their computers. Having that power in a mobile device is incredible.

The iPad upgrades followed suit with the iPhone and received the new A7 chip, as well as other changes. The iPad was redesigned into the iPad Air, a lightweight tablet that, to me, seems like an ideal size and weight for a “full size” iPad (and is much improved over the first generation). The iPad Mini, meanwhile, was upgraded with a Retina display. I’d say the new iPad Mini is probably the best 7.9″ tablet out there. Honestly, every time I see an iPad mini, I feel like I’m living in a Star Trek world.

All of these updates seemed to make the iOS device line up even better than before. What changes could possibly come in 2014?

For one, I think we’re looking at the end of an old friend. The 30-pin connector has existed for over a decade and been a staple of iPods, iPhones, and iPads for years. Since the introduction of the iPhone 5 and the Lightning connector, however, it has become clear that a new era of connecting cables was at hand. The Lightning connector’s smaller size let Apple make the iPhone even thinner than previous generations. Given Apple’s typical quest to shrink things down, it makes sense that future devices stick to the Lightning cable.

What had not surprised me during the iPhone event was the presence of the iPhone 4S on the lineup. Typically, the phone from two years prior would be made free on contract, and this held true. But as we look ahead to 2014, if this pattern continues, we’ll see the iPhone 4S drop off of the lineup.  This doesn’t just affect the iPhone, however.

The iPad 2 has somehow held on to life, despite the fact that it is three generations older than the newest iPad model available. If the iPhone 4S does indeed get retired, then the iPad 2 would be the only device still using the 30-pin connector. But, that’s not all; The iPad 2 is one of only two iOS devices sold without a Retina display. The other? The original iPad Mini, which shared many specs of the iPad 2. When new iPads are announced, I don’t think Apple wants to present a non-Retina screen as an option anymore. It’s time to look to the future and keep all devices top of the line.

So, that being said, what will we see?

iPhone: Since the original iPhone in 2007, there has always been at least one new phone released each year. There’s no reason for Apple not to continue. Given their introduction of two new handsets in 2013, it’s possible we’ll see two more in 2014: one a high-end upgrade of the iPhone 5s with a brand new design, a new A8 processor, and other improved specs; the other could be an upgrade to the iPhone 5c, bringing the power of the 5s into a design and feel that could appeal to the more colorful (or those that miss the feel of the iPhone 3G/S). Even if the 5c isn’t updated, I foresee it remaining on the lineup.

Lineup Prediction: A new iPhone (6?), reduced price iPhone 5s, and a colorful iPhone 5c (or update to it).

iPad: The iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina will see some minor changes. Both would likely see a new generation with an A8 processor and the inclusion of Touch ID, something that they didn’t receive with the previous updates. With 2 generations of iPad Mini with Retina, it could be possible for Apple to phase out non-Retina screens in their entirety. At last, we would see an end to the iPad 2.

Lineup Prediction: iPad Air (2nd Gen), iPad Mini with Retina (2nd Gen), and reduced price iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina (both 1st Gen).

What about the iPod Touch? It was last updated along with the iPhone 5. Has Apple left it out to dry? We’ll have to wait and see. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a new iPod Touch modeled alongside a new iPhone design. But the iPod line is no longer Apple’s main money-maker, so who knows what they’ll do?

Rumors continue to circulate about Apple entering the wearable category or taking on the TV market further. Apple TV runs a modified form of iOS, but I won’t talk about it in this post. And with no official word about any iWatch, we don’t know what software it will run. Do I think we’ll see at least one of these in 2014? Definitely.

In short, these updates may not seem too revolutionary. In a way, they’re aren’t. But they also are leading the way towards a new age of iOS devices, moving away from legacy solutions and early-tech. Having every iOS device for sale containing the new Lightning connector and a Retina display will put Apple in a strong position with premium devices. They only sell their best, and in 2014, they’ll show it.