The Shape of Everything
A website mostly about Mac stuff, written by Gus Mueller
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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.

January 29, 2015

Victor Powell has some nice interactive graphics showing how convolution image filters work. It's worth checking out if you're even remotely interested in this stuff.

January 23, 2015

Serenity Caldwell: Here's why Apple might make a stylus for the iPad

"But there are still plenty of sane reasons to have a digital stylus: Drawing. Handwriting. Drafting. Strumming a virtual instrument. For these use cases, a stylus not only makes sense — it's nigh-essential. Yes, there are many artists who've made their name on how well they can digitally paint on iPads and other tablets, but I'd argue that it's an art style, not a solution for all artistic sketching. It's still difficult to do detailed cartooning or calculated drafting with your finger, or quickly handwrite a note or a title card."

I really want to use my iPad as a sketching surface, but the current crop of styluses all suck. So instead I carry around pencil and papper with me wherever I go. If Apple could make a stylus for the iPad, and make it so that it's Wacom level quality, then that's a game changer for me.

January 22, 2015

I've been thinking a lot about Microsoft's HoloLens that was announced yesterday. It looks pretty awesome! Make sure to check out the site, look at the pretty pictures and how they envision HoloLens to be used. Go ahead and get excited about it.

But like that crazy uncle, this is Microsoft and you know not to believe everything that comes out of its mouth. You know deep down that the HoloLens isn't going to be what they say it is, because it never is with Microsoft. For a great example of this, read Ben Kuchera's "Skeptical of HoloLens? It's time to rewatch how Microsoft sold us on the Kinect".

So we're not really disappointed, because we know what to expect.

But for some reason, the HoloLens announcement has really been upsetting me over the last 12 hours or so. Why is MS selling people promises that they know they won't deliver? Or at least can't deliver for another five years? Why are you getting people excited? It's a wonderful future you've got painted here, but we've seen this show before. You need to stop this behavior Microsoft, because isn't helping, and I know it sounds odd coming from me, but I really do want your products to kick ass.

So when we watch the Microsoft keynote, we don't get excited because we know what to expect. We've learned from past behavior not to competely believe what Microsoft is selling.

And this is why so many people love what Apple delivers. When Apple gives demos of their new product, they aren't throwing in CG showing how they hope things will happen some day in the future. Instead they show the real deal. How it's being used yesterday. And it's those possibilities that get us excited. And Apple frames it so well. The product demos never show us at work (because who wants to get excited about work?), instead the demos show us how the product will be used in our life. How it can make the things we enjoy even better.

And that is probably the biggest difference between Apple and Microsoft. Apple knows when it's time to show a new product. Apple knows when something is ready for real world use, and Apple won't rush something out the door because of market pressures.

Apple is your favorite aunt or uncle, who isn't talking about crazy future ideas, but is instead showing you how to hold a pencil correctly, or a tie your shoe. Something you can do today. Apple isn't flailing about trying to grab onto whatever it can so, yelling out for attention. Apple is solid, reliable, dependable.

And I think that is why we're seeing so many people reacting to Apple's software quality lately. You expect Microsoft not to deliver. But we expect Apple to. And lately, it really hasn't felt like they've been doing it.

Software quality issues, botched iOS updates, change fatigue, iCloud problems, iWork feature regressions, app rejections, etc. Did we have a period of time where things were unusually good, and we got used to it? Or are we in a period where things are unusually bad for a time?

I'd even throw half an Apple Watch in the list, because did you really need to announce it so far ahead of launch? Was it just to spite competitors? Or was it market pressure?

I have relatives asking me about why their Macs are slowing down. They switched from Windows for a reason, back when I used to brag about how OS X updates would speed up existing hardware. Remember those days?

Now I'm just not sure what to say when folks ask me about their OS X problems. It's disappointing, but not so unexpected anymore.

January 14, 2015

Tony Buckland's Birds of Minnesota are some pretty awesome illustrations.

The Northern Cardinal is obviously the best.

January 8, 2015

Stephen Darlington ▸ "Preview" is damaged and can't be opened.

"This was the rather surprising error message that I’ve been getting when I try to open a PDF from the Finder since I upgraded to OS X Yosemite. It’s bad enough when you get an error message, but one suggesting that you delete a frequently used app is inconvenient to say the least!

"Since I found it, I’ve been using a workaround: start Preview.app and open the file manually.

"But there’s a better answer. Apparently it just has a duff “quarantine” attribute set. To get rid of it and get things back to normal simply do the following in a Terminal window"

There's a mysterious extended attribute that's being set on Preview, along with a couple of other Apple apps on 10.10, which keep it from working correctly. I wouldn't normally comment on something like this, but the OS is mentioning Acorn in its dialog, even if Acorn isn't installed on the system anymore.

I have no idea what's going on, or why Acorn is involved. I'm wondering if the bug causing this is choosing Acorn out of a list of applications and just grabbing the one off the top. And if the list is sorted alphabetically, that's Acorn's bad luck I guess.

If you've seen this dialog with another app mentioned in there, I'd love to know about it.

January 7, 2015

Acorn 4.5.3 is out for direct customers. It's a maintenance release, containing mostly bug fixes. Make sure to grab it though, as I believe I've fixed the #1 and #2 crashers that I'm aware of, which makes me very happy. One of these has been around for a number of years, and it was only recently that someone gave me a reproducible case for it.

I'm still working on the App Store version. I had hoped to have it submitted already, but I've got new signing certificates and something on Apple's side keeps on rejecting my upload. Previous builds of Acorn were done on 10.9, and I'm doing everything on 10.10 now, so I'm guessing that's part of the problem.

It should be out reasonably soon (by App Store standards), maybe a week or so?

Update: I ended up doing the build of Acorn 4.5.3 on 10.9, and iTunes Connect took it just fine. So we're just waiting on Apple to review it for the App Store.