The Shape of Everything
A website mostly about Mac stuff, written by Gus Mueller
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May 22, 2015

Check out Phree, which is a bluetooth stylus which works with phones and tablets. But there's a difference with this one, which is that you don't write on the display but rather on any surface around you. I think Phree is a pretty neat idea, and I hope it actually works as well as they claim.

I imagine if you haven't used something like a Wacom tablet, you might not quite get the point of Phree. Why would you want something like this, which isn't drawing directly on your screen, over one of the existing styli that do?

Because precision.

The current fat finger styli that work with iOS devices today stink. Using one is like drawing with a sausage, which is obviously a horrible tool to make accurate lines with. Sure, anyone can point to some amazing work that's been made with a sausage, but that doesn't make it a good tool. I can point to some amazing art made with Microsoft Paint, but that doesn't mean everyone should dump Acorn and start using it.

Instead, Phree ignores the crappy fat finger input that everyone is already doing, and has come up with what looks to be a great new one.

But of course, it's on Kickstarter, which means it'll be three years late and won't quite deliver on what it promises. I can always hope though.

I still find it hard to believe that five years after its introduction, we don't have real stylus support for iPads. Rumors pop up every once that Apple will be adding support via an iPad pro or something like that, but my fear is that they will just plop in Force Touch and call it a day. If your stylus doesn't support more than 200 levels of pressure sensitivity, you're not going far enough (for comparison, the Wacom Intuos supports 1024).

Ironicly, the Microsoft Surface has a real pressure sensitive stylus. And MS is even looking to support Objective-C (and possibly Swift) soon. Who would have thought that five years ago?

And it seems to me that having first class stylus support would be a nice boost to the iPad. I'm not going to hold my breath though.

May 18, 2015

Dinofarm Games: A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art

"Artists of any era tend to create with the best, most current tools available to them. Technology’s primary function is to make human life as easy and efficient as possible. This is no different in the case of art production technology. Greater production technology means fewer limitations imposed by the medium.

"All mediums have their limitations, however. Just as the canvas has its edge, graphics processors have their thresholds. In the earliest days of game art, the extreme technological limitations created serious adversity."

May 16, 2015

Brent Simmons: How Not to Crash #2: Mutation Exceptions:

"You get a collection from somewhere and enumerate it — and then you get an error about the collection being mutated as it was being enumerated. The app crashes.

"You can avoid this unhappy fate with one simple trick: don’t enumerate mutable collections."

"That’s perfectly legal code: because mutableOperations is an NSMutableArray, it’s also an NSArray. (I did it this way for years. I thought to myself, “Hey, I’m a grownup. I can handle it.” But what I didn’t realize was that grownup developers write code to make errors less likely.)"

May 9, 2015

A Nice video from (uncle) Paul Kafasis, recorded at this years NSConf. Paul gives a nice overview on how Rogue Amoeba's products are driven.

May 8, 2015

Dan Counsell, with a revenue snapshot of an ordinary day for his company, Realmac:

"There's been a fair amount of talk lately about whether it's still sustainable to be an indie developer. The short answer is yes, but that doesn't mean it's easy. I think most developers will agree it's now harder than ever to make a living on the App Store.

"The peak for indies on the App Store was around 2013. It was much easier back then to launch a financially successful app. Things have changed. The larger, more established companies now take the lions share of revenue. This is particularly true for games on the iOS App Store, less so on the Mac. However, we need to face the facts that this is what happens when a market matures, the bigger companies take over and make it harder for the little guys to get a foothold in the market."

May 4, 2015

A group of Seattle folks (aka, Xcoders) got together to buy a couple of tickets for the Layers conf, and to be given as scholarships for women in design. Because, why not?

But… surely we're not the only ones who could do this?

Your move, San Francisco.

April 9, 2015

Rajiv Popat: Easier Than Fizz Buzz - Why Can't Programmers Print 100 to 1?

"That was interesting. But what was even more interesting was the actual program the candidates were being asked to solve. If Jeff Atwood wonders why programmers can't program, when they can't solve Fizz Buzz; here's a problem that is much more easier than Fizz Buzz and yet:

  1. About 14% just couldn't solve the problem in less then 10 minutes - which is when we moved on to the next question.
  2. About 40% took more than 5 minutes to solve the problem and / or had to be corrected more than once.
  3. Only about 14% could solve this problem in 2 minutes or less.
  4. About 82% had to be corrected at-least once before they solved the problem. (which means they actually got it wrong the first time around!)

And the problem they were solving?

Print 100 to 1."

Consider me flabbergasted.

(For the record, I 'solved' it in about 10 seconds of typing and in 3 lines of code).

March 25, 2015

Charles Parnot: Replacing Photoshop With NSString:

"This “drawing” described very nicely what I wanted to do, better than any comment I could ever write for any kind of code, in fact. That ASCII art was a great way to show directly in my code what image would be used in that part of the UI, without having to dig into the resources folder. The actual drawing code suddenly seemed superflous. What if I could just pass the ASCII art into NSImage directly?"

March 11, 2015

Hyperandroid: Efficient WebGL stroking:

"While working on WebGL rendering you soon realize that a canvas like API, despite its opinionated implementation, is extremely useful and easy to work with. Concretely, I am referring to its stroking capabilities. While making a stroke WebGL implementation I came up with the following solution, which requires very simple maths, is fast, and can be implemented just from 2d vectors."

Fun stuff.

February 9, 2015

My pals over at Rogue Amoeba have recently released Audio Hijack 3, which besides looking pretty awesome, does a bang up job of recording (and processing) audio from any app on OS X.

Christa Mrgan of RA has also posted The Evolution of Audio Hijack, which is a nice behind the scenes look at what went into making the UI.

And next, my friends over at Nice Mohawk have released a beta of PhoneExpander, which helps you clear up disk hogging temp files on your iOS devices. Try it out and send them your feedback.