Open Plan

Apple Park’s Open Work Spaces

I’ve had the misfortune to work in “war rooms” (no fighting allowed!) and “open plans” before, and for some reason I always think of this, for a moment before the noise distracts me:

Some things about living still weren’t quite right, though. April for
instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in
that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron’s fourteen-
year-old son, Harrison, away.

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very
hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t
think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his
intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his
ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a
government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would
send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair
advantage of their brains.

George and Hazel were watching television. There were tears on Hazel’s
cheeks, but she’d forgotten for the moment what they were about.
On the television screen were ballerinas.

A buzzer sounded in George’s head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits
from a burglar alarm.

—Kurt Vonnegut, “Harrison Bergeron” (1961)

Paint No More

Microsoft is deprecating MS Paint. I’m never been a Windows, but on the few times I’ve had one on a work desk, MS Paint was a cute, useful tool; BMP was a terrible format, but once it could save as PNG or JPG it was fine.

Update 2017-07-27: Paint isn’t being killed, but sent to a farm upstate

I’d mock, but oddly OS X has never shipped with a real paint program. The closest is an Xcode sample project Sketch, which IIRC was shipped pre-installed at one time, and you can grab Xcode for free and build (you may have to open the project and set Deployment Target to your OS version, because it’ll be too old). And Sketch is just a toy line-drawing program, not a pixel editor. You can sort of draw in Apple Notes now, but don’t rely on that, I get terrible results and often lose those sketches.

Obviously, there’s plenty of professional software, like GraphicConverter, Acorn, Pixelmator, Sketch – no relation?, Photoshop, etc. I miss Fractal Design Painter, but dislike the way Corel Painter went.

I’m not opposed to leaving this to independent developers, just surprised by Apple not Sherlocking a major application category.

Premium Subscription ★☆☆☆☆

Day One Goes Premium Subscription
and of course the mob outrage in App Store ratings is what you’d expect: MacDrifter.

And this is why I only do bare minimum maintenance of my App Store software now. I released Brigand as free with a $10 unlock, and got savaged for it, so I pulled it. If Nintendo can’t make that work with Mario, Apple giving them the front page, and millions in advertising, I sure can’t. I love Brigand, but unless I put in more work changing the business model, I can’t sell it; sunk cost fallacy tells me not to do that.

Productivity software should cost more than a game, but very few on iOS are willing to pay up front every single new version.

Apple doesn’t let you give old customers an upgrade price, and presumably never will; maybe an upgrade killed Phil Schiller’s pet/child/Camaro in front of him, or something, given the 9 years he’s heard developers request this feature and told us to pound sand. And Apple does nobody any favors by Sherlocking and undercutting developers with “free” or cheap productivity apps.

The older solution of releasing a new numbered version and abandoning the old one every year or so was completely user-hostile. I just refused to do it, and would always switch apps whenever someone tried, and often found a better app by doing this.

Maybe the subscription model is terrible, but it’s less terrible than anything else going on.

Michael Tsai wonders if the hostile reviews are from prices going up, but they’re just catching up to desktop/web service prices, usually because a subscription gets you cross-platform access now.

Long-term, I think the App Store will be seen as the worst-managed disaster in the history of software. It went from a nice slot machine for indie devs and gallery for a few professional companies, to a predatory flea market full of thieves and frauds. Trying to tell anyone you make real software and here’s a reasonable price, in that environment, is a waste of time.

You Have Updates

WordPress just told me I have a bunch of updates, so I pushed the button, at my convenience. iPhone has a bunch of updates, but I certainly don’t have autoupdate turned on, I’ll look at those when I feel like it.

I don’t understand how people put up with their software deciding to “update” on them without permission.

Mac is insistent with the “updates waiting” dialog, but you can tell it to fuck off indefinitely.

Linux is like a broken car you have to go dumpster-diving to find new parts for.

But Windows breaks into your home to change your shit around. Just no.

The Land Before iPhone

In which millennials try to recall kindergarten pre-iPhone

iPhone was nice, but not a big change to my lifestyle; I already had a Treo, and before that a LifeDrive, and before that a Palm III, and had Internet since before I was boinking those kids’ mothers. I was basically the model for the Mondo 2000 “R.U. A Cyberpunk” poster (the joke being R.U.Sirius was… nevermind), and yes, I read Mondo2k & Wired before they were dead and/or uncool.

Installers

Indie game dev leads you to some dark and terrible places.

I so miss the App Store being an endless payout slot machine without spending $10M on advertising, and miss the 6-figure jobs for fixing peoples’ apps because nobody knew Objective-C (even less know it now, but they’re stupidly trying to rewrite code they don’t understand into Swift, which will break again in 6 months).

Now I’m a poor but honest pixel farmer, forced to shovel shit to get to market.

Making a Mac binary for Reaper’s Crypt was trivial (on a Mac, probably impossible elsewhere), and produced 1 file: “Reaper’s Crypt.app” (a Mac application bundle, hiding all the mess so you don’t see it).

Making a Linux binary was not much harder, and produced 17 files and directories, with libraries and data scattered all over, with the binary sitting in the middle where nobody could see it. So I’ll have to make a little script to go launch that untidy mess. When I did Linux, there were at least 3 standards for icons, and by now I’m sure there are 13 more, so they get a raw image file.

Making a Windows binary required me to install WINE with MacPorts, which took hours, and the binary is in the middle of a similar mess of 20 files and directories. So for this I need an installer to make a .msi file, which nobody I know has done this decade; I think I have a handle on this. But now I don’t know if I need 32-bit “win32” or 64-bit “win32” (what.); there’s no fat binaries in Windows, so it’s one or the other.

I am not Hercules, and these Augean stables are filthy.

WWDC 2017

Just a few minutes to DubDubDeeCee!

Despite that I’m currently not working on any iOS or Mac-specific software, and it hasn’t been great since Steve died, I’m still always excited. Just a few years ago I was always in that keynote line, and then a week drinking from the session firehose, getting my apps problem areas looked at by engineers, and overdrinking at the parties and beer bash with usually shitty bands (but one year they had Barenaked Ladies!!!)

So this week I’ll be watching sessions when they have something that isn’t nonsense about IVE-1138’s white room, or Swift the walking dead CPU-burner of a language. And then get back to work on a modern platform.

News Snark

OK, what’s going on in tech today?

  • Apple’s bragging about the fucking trees on their spaceship compound. link

  • Tech companies are powerless against coal/oil company politics. link

  • Google’s ad-blocking everyone except Google ads. link

  • Nintendo wants you to pay $20/year for online multiplayer, still no backup, and an NES emulator (back when their games were good). link

(I don’t expect to do this often, but my sarcasm levels are higher than my bullshit-tolerance this morning)

Apps

It weirds me out that people say “apps” for anything except iOS or Mac programs, because their application bundles have a “.app” extension inherited from NeXTstep.

Windows programs are exes. Linux (as if anyone uses Linux) are bins or binaries. Web pages that do something are CGI or DHTML. None of those have application bundles, a coherent structure for binary and support files.

And until the iPhone got popular, only the nerdiest of Mac nerds ever said “app”. But most people can’t remember their language changing, because they have no introspection.