This is a growing listing of great quotes and things to keep in mind of interest to me.
[Last updated 13 March 2012]
Apple’s an amoeba never staying in one place, Microsoft’s a tall tree planted in one place, Google’s a rash spread all over the place.” - Mark Hernandez 3/13/12
Design is ‘how it works’. – Steve Jobs
No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking. – Voltaire
Those who make software need to understand how art is made, and vice versa. - Horace Dediu, Asymco.com
Write a diary entry a year from now and talk about what went wrong in retrospect. – David Brooks, Charlie Rose program on PBS, December 21, 2011
Simplicity allows us to rise to a higher level of accomplishment given the fixed amount of effort we have available to us. – Mark Hernandez, about 2001
Do not undertake the program unless the goal is manifestly important and the achievement nearly impossible. – Edwin H. Land
Any problem can be solved using the materials in the room. – Edwin H. Land
Oversimplification is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. – Mark Hernandez, November 2011
Amateurs look for inspiration. The rest of us just show up and get to work.
Artist Chuck Close.
Two of the most underused words in the English language are tradeoff, and balance. Mark Hernandez, 2011
Prepare the ground in such a way so that your creation can take on a life of its own and run away with it. Sidney Lumet, 1997
These are team sports. You can’t do it alone. Steve Jobs, 1996
This post is in response to: “5by5 | The Critical Path #15: The Existence Proof” on asymco.com and was last updated on 28 December 2011.
This podcast was particularly interesting to me because using visuals to supplement and replace words is critically important in what many of us are working on. I wanted to ask your indulgence as I go off the deep end here and have some fun talking about finding the balance between words and visualizations, entertaining you along the way.
And in this, my first multimedia blog-reply, I’m officially starting my own trek to find the tools and obtain the skills to create the visualizations I need for my Mac OS app called MiR which accelerates the productivity of iOS and Mac OS developers. I too am trial-and-erroring in multiple ways and I’ll be sharing and cataloging what I learn.
As for using visuals to enhance spoken podcasts and conference talks, and written blog posts and teaching materials, I’m looking forward to the day when the tools are available which will allow us to quickly throw together a visual with the ease-of-use of, say, Photoshop.
You can AirPlay these 720p videos clips to your Apple TV from your iPhone or iPad by the way.
Of course, these visualizations easily and accurately transfer the imagery from the mind of the designer to the mind of the client describing objects, relationships, color, texture, and movement within a space.
Visualizations avoid the inevitable errors and misunderstanding that occurs when the original imagery is first converted into words by the speaker or writer, and then errors are introduced again when the listener or reader reconstructs those words into imagery in their heads.
We all understand this problem very well. The “art of the explanation” is just the first half of the challenge (dehydration) and interestingly no one talks about the art of listening (rehydration).
Okay, moving on to the super deluxe end of visualizations, check out these visuals from Brian Greene’s PBS series The Fabric of the Cosmos and The Elegant Universe which help make understanding astrophysics and quantum mechanics relatively effortless. :-) Focus on the attention to detail paid on each of the visualizations…
I love the imagery (at right) used to visualize other dimensions moving around and intersecting one another. It reminds me of what goes on in our heads, with each membrane corresponding to some knowledge or skill we have, and each side of the membrane representing the interface between easy and hard, known and unknown, clear and confusing. And at the end of the clip when they were popping up in different colors, well that could represent the diversity of our listeners and readers, all with their own particular understanding of things in different places.
Many other shows use amazing visuals like these including Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe and Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole, both on the Science Channel. Well, they’re everywhere, from Avatar to cartoons.
What tools are all these post-production studios using? I guess we can call them up on the phone and find out, but I also know most of us can’t afford them. In addition, we need to be able to use them occasionally, not as part of our day job, so the learning and remembering cost-of-entry must be low enough, as well.
For example, I edited together all these video clips myself using Apple’s Final Cut Pro X, an incredibly approachable yet powerful tool for a weekend warrior like me. You can tell in these videos that the “ripple edits” in my transitions still need a little tweaking.
And lastly, we have visuals from the 52-episode CalTech series The Mechanical Universe from 1987 making the point that people have been doing this for at least 25 years already! The Mac was only a couple of years old. (I silenced the audio, and skip through it if you want ‘cuz it’s kinda slow moving.)
It was a colossal project with each episode packed with custom visualizations and reenactments. I included a shot of the lecture hall at the end to give a sense of how long ago this was!
So what’s the holdup? Why aren’t these tools available?
Perhaps part of the challenge is that the world of visualization and animation subdivides into many types with tools tailored to those particular needs. It’s certainly asking too much for one tool to be able to address all the different requirements, from static visualizations of an architectural design, to the evolving worldwide mobile device markets, to moving through fantasy kitchens, to hairy monsters in games, to explanations of quantum mechanics.
And in my field of software development we have a big problem…
Of the 120-plus books on iOS and Mac OS app development currently in print, and the hundreds of development-related documents, videos, blogs and forum posts, 99.99% of it uses only words with the occasional 2D graphic. Even Objective-C code is a flat textual representation of an element that lives in a 4D world (3 dimensions + time).
This is not good, and it’s unworthy of the 21st century. People wanting to redo their kitchens have it better than app developers do. Pick just about any other field of endeavor and it’s probably the same situation.
Here’s what gets me though… An experienced app developer has a full working 4D model in his/her head of how all the objects and frameworks fit together, how the messages between objects fly through the system, the unique ways in which objects can invoke one another in doing their work, and the accepted construction patterns one uses to create new apps.
But when it comes to teaching a new person how to develop an app, that sophisticated 4D working model is translated into words with those same two places where errors in translation can happen. On top of that, I’ve identified over 20 different, overlapping word-based sources an app developer learns from. The student must draw from out-of-order streams of words and construct their own working 4D model piecemeal, repeatedly breaking down and rebuilding incorrect constructions in their heads during the learning process, and this takes months if not years.
4D visualizations of the iOS and MacOS development environment, if they existed, could help reduce the learning process to days and weeks because the chance for error is eliminated and learning time is significantly reduced.
Well, let’s see what we can do about that. It’s an opportunity!
In summary, words are a stone age tool. We use them because they’re supremely convenient. They’re more than good enough in a fiction novel or a radio show when the reader or listener will add their own custom imagery. But words alone are quite inadequate when trying to communicate and explain things with accuracy, and quickly. In this case, visuals are an essential companion. Words will never be eliminated and are used as the tree upon which the visuals are hung, like this blog post. Being a good wordsmith is as important as being a good graphic visualizer.
Of course, text, words, and language will always have it’s place in the rich fabric of communication and media types, but it’s important to stop and notice when things are out of balance.
Well, it only took four calendar days to produce my first multimedia blog-reply, but I hope it just took a few enjoyable minutes to consume. Practice makes perfect. And during a real-time talk or podcast, all these (possibly interactive) visuals must be sitting off-stage and available to use at a moment’s notice without any undesirable pauses in the action!
 The first clip now has the acknowledgements added to the clips.
 The second clip is from Brian Greene’s NOVA series Fabric of the Cosmos episode 3 “Universe or Multiverse” and The Elegant Universe episode 3 “Welcome to the 11th Dimension” (Copyright WGBH and PBS) captured on a TiVo HD in 1080i and transferred to my iMac using iTiVo at broadcast quality.
I had to capture the first clip using my iPhone because TiVo is required by the cable companies to respect their copy protection flags, and Kitchen Cousins was copy protected. I can transfer a PBS NOVA series to my iMac because it’s not blocked, but not an episode of I Love Lucy. AT&T U-verse, however, does not prevent you from playing a video in one room on a box in another like TiVo is prevented from doing. It’s no surprise to see the content conglomerates playing their turf wars.
 The third clip is from The Mechanical Universe and Beyond (Copyright 1987 California Institute of Technology, The Corporation For Community College Television and the Annenberg/CPB Project). The .avi video was converted with MPEG StreamClip. The computer graphics in this 52 episode series were provided by the JPL Computer Graphics Lab.
All clips were edited on an early 2007 24″ iMac using Final Cut Pro X even though this model of iMac isn’t officially supported because its graphics card doesn’t support OpenCL. I learned how to use Final Cut Pro X in only a few hours by watching the Final Cut Pro X Essential Training tutorial on Lynda.com and I balanced it out with a great text-based book by Larry Jordan for further depth and better random access to information. The videos are hosted on this WordPress.com blog and published using VideoPress at a maximum of 720p.
The amount of amazing technology I’m standing on the shoulders of is remarkable.
This post is in response to: “5by5 | The Critical Path #15: The Theater of Disruption” on asymco.com
[Updated 14 December 2011]
Another great exchange, this time between Horace and Hoon Lee!
Around the 51 minute mark in this stimulating podcast exchange, Hoon Lee (pictured at right) said something that triggered a big reaction in me, regarding exploring interactions that feel native to the internet, the online narrative, and that the “primary carrier system” online is text, as it is on Twitter, Facebook and mobile devices, and how it would be interesting to “go back to text” and explore it’s affinities with radio.
As we all know, when we read books, as when we listen to radio and podcasts, we read text and hear words. And one of the things that makes books and radio a great experience is that we take the words and in effect “rehydrate” them with our own imaginations and backfill the missing visuals with our own unique and personalized visualizations which are a key part of the experience.
While this is great for books and radio, there are other areas where this just doesn’t work at all, areas where precision and accuracy is paramount. One such area is app development.
For example, an experienced iPhone app developer has a working and precise 3D model in his/her head of how the world of objects and frameworks fit together, how messages fly around, how objects delegate tasks to one another, along with an understanding of the various “patterns” that good programmers adhere to.
But what happens when a new person comes along and wants to learn? We unfortunately rely on text because of its supreme convenience.
An analysis of all the app development learning resources out there, which I am an expert in, reveals that it’s virtually all text based, with the occasional 2D visualization. Even videos are keynote presentations of text with occasional 2D images.
The result is that it takes many months, if not YEARS to bring someone up to speed. It’s horrible, and what ensues is a lot of confusion, with wrong models being constructed in the student’s head which must to be broken down and reconstructed repeatedly in successive approximation (and you know how hard it is for humans to break a bad habit or relearn someone’s name they’ve learned incorrectly.
Fast forward to the optimal way to communicate, and you have two people sitting in chairs with special helmets they put on to transfer knowledge between them, or perhaps the Vulcan mind meld might work too.
Well, a practical solution that’s waiting in the wings (in hopefully the near future) are all the as-yet unavailable tools that can make it child’s play to visually explain and communicate things that are in each of our heads, and just bypass words and text. Imagine the possibilities!
We now have tools that have democratized desktop publishing, image processing, capturing and editing video, and the visualization tools Horace uses. But we still have a long way to go getting tools that’ll allow us to visually communicate the rest of the things we can see in our heads in 3D. Until then we’re stuck communicating the subtleties and visuals in our heads by translating them into words and embarking on the laborious process of doing our best to get the listener to understand what we mean.
The point I’m trying to make is that text is everywhere. I’m using it now because I have no choice. But most of us don’t see how woefully inadequate words can be when we want to express ourselves. When some of us are trained to constantly look for errors in communication, it can be a painful experience. I don’t watch the news anymore. I believe that oversimplification is the greatest challenge of the 21st century.
When I talk about this, I always end with “I’m waiting for when Pixar’s visualization tools are finally available on my iPad.”
I know this is a long post, but why do commenting systems want me to compress this comment into four paragraphs? Horace mentioned that “the system inhibits innovation.” Well, think about what text inhibits, much less the places we use it. I removed it from asymco’s site and replaced it with a link to here. Did people bother to come here and read all this boring text?
The remarkable painter Chuck Close says that severe constraints encourage creativity. But it’s just one point along the spectrum. Twitter caused me to say something to Horace that could be taken the wrong way the other day because I was overly concise. Grrrrrr. :-)
Well, I’m trying to aim a light on a big open area that’s sitting right before us just beyond reach, waiting to be explored. What will happen when we have tools that make it easy to move beyond text and words when we communicate and share with each other?
Text is the stone age, Pixar-style visualizations are the future, and the gap between the two is waiting to be filled and will unleash amazing things when the tools are available to most everyone.
You can comment here or comment on asymco.com.
We hear all the wonderful comments, tributes, praise, stories and eulogies from the well-known, such as Gruber, Arment, LaMarche, Rundle, Jardine, Drance, Hockenberry, Moren, Jurewitz, Ritchie, English, Benjamin, Sadun, Viticci, Snell, Siracusa, Swisher, Mossberg, Pogue, Gemmell, Zarra, Ihnatko, Wozniak, Fried, Siegler, Dudney, Dediu, Dalrymple, Gelynse, Frakes, Doll, Dilger, McCracken, Mantia, Wiskus, Hillegass, Mace, Gassée, Lisagor, Simmons, Mrgan, Scoble, Blanc, Dash, Winer, Mann, Brooks, and so many others who are very well-respected and accomplished in the subspace we work in.
But there are also “the rest of us” — the nobodies, the invisible, unheard, unknown, silent, and voiceless, like Zac, Doug, Guy, Josh, Mac, Irving, Mick, Jose, Mike, Kevin, Jason, Lynn, Tim, Ryan, Jens, Ben, Andre, Matt, Alex, Israel, Renee, Roy, Julian, Sanjay, Marc with a “c” and me, Mark with a “k” — and hundreds of thousands of others who cried and felt the loss deep down in our guts, and whose loud chorus of respect and praise may go unheard.
We too are the “crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the trouble-makers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently, who aren’t fond of rules and have no respect for the status quo…” And while we may currently be the ones you can’t quote, disagree with, glorify or vilify, the only thing we shouldn’t do is ignore us because we can also change things and push the human race forward in our own way.
It’s comforting to know Steve can now hear us all from the other side.
Thanks, Steve, for giving us a remarkable point of reference, and a flame to fly toward.
[Updated March 20, 2012] This is a constantly updated list of the Apple-related developer events in San Diego. Bookmark this page and return here for the latest info.
This calendar lists the events, and additional event details follow below it.
The San Diego iOS Developers meetup is held on the second Thursday of each month alternating between a northerly and southerly location. You should join their San Diego iPhone Developers Google group mailing list to keep up to date and to find out where the northerly and southerly locations are. The group has gotten bigger and they are always searching for bigger accomodations.
You should also follow @SanDiegoiOS to keep in touch.
The long-time and traditional Tuesday night NSCoder Night is held each Tuesday at 7pm (see calendar above). Join the regular gang Marc, Guy, Doug, Roeloff and others. Everyone’s really friendly so don’t hesitate to come by and make some friends. Bring your laptop and pull up a chair and hang out with us and work on your code, talk or whatever you want.
Another weekly get-together similar to NSCoder Night is Xcoder Night at Art Produce in North Park and is held every Wednesday from 6 to 9 pm. I, Mark Hernandez, was hosting this. The turnout was low and I learned a lot. This meeup is now suspended. However…
What’s happening instead is that I’m now starting a business to build and promote MiR, my Mac OS app that significantly accelerates app development by removing incredible amounts of unnecessary complexity using several methods I’ve both developed and invented. It brings the rest of the development experience (DX) outside of Apple’s purview into the 21st century and works as a matching sidekick to Xcode. It’s appeals to both developers and those who want to have an app developed for them. The reason I’m mentioning this is because part of the business includes and actual Apple app development resource center (not affiliated with Apple) with a bunch of things never seen before that will certainly attract the crowds that “coders nights” cannot. So stay tuned, wish me luck, and if you’re a developer skilled in developing 3D software using Objective-C and Cocoa, please get in touch with me using the link above.
The SDiOS group meets on the fourth Monday of every month at the UCSD Extension location in University City. There is usually a presentation and you should visit their website at SDiOS.org for more details. This is a great group that’s expanding rapidly and it’s a great place to hobnob with other developers.
The San Diego iOS Developers meetup is held on the second Thursday of each month alternating between a northerly and southerly location. The last get-together was on Thursday December 8th at 7pm hosted by Josh Jones (standing in for the usual host Noel Llopis) at the Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in La Jolla near the VA Hospital (UCSD).
The San Diego iPhone / Blackberry / Android Mobile Developers group had an informal meetup on Friday December 2nd at 10 AM in the morning at Bad Ass Coffee in Rancho Penasquitos which is conveniently located off I-15. The details are here. About 16 people attended.
SkillMasters had a meetup on Customizing the iOS Navigation Bar on Wednesday, November 16th at 7pm. The class was $5 and held at 3rd Space. I’ve attended Julian’s classes before and he’s a great instructor.
The San Diego iOS Developers monthly meetup is held on the second Thursday alternating between a northerly and southerly location each month. The November meetup was on Thursday November 10th at 7pm hosted by Noel Llopsis at O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub in Carlsbad.
Also, the San Diego iPhone/Blackberry/Android Mobile Developers had an informal meetup on Thursday October 13th from 3-6pm at 3rd Space in University Heights.
About Developer Get-togethers
NSCoder Nights and the other similar get-togethers are weekly and monthly events for those who are writing native apps for either Mac OS or iOS who want to meet and hang out with other developers to get their questions answered, offer help to others, or both. I’m pretty expert with all the development resources available (which is what my own app is all about) and I’ve come to realize that face time with other developers is one essential resource that’s missing and is often critical to success. This is especially true if you’re an indie developer, and even more so if you’re working solo like me. These events are meant for getting some developer buddies in orbit around you and helping you move forward!
These get-togethers are different than CocoaHeads events, which usually have a speaker and topic and serve a different purpose, of course. You can come here to find out if one is coming up as well.
Nationwide Developer Events
I also maintain the page Apple-related Developer Conferences and Training which lists all developer events outside of San Diego.
Please Keep In Touch
If you’re interested and have any questions you can send me a secure private message using the Contact Me button in the menu bar above.
If you know of any other local events and development resources please let me know and I’ll make sure they get listed on this page. Thanks.
As Horace Dediu of asymco.com insightfully points out in a recent Critical Path podcast, while we find ourselves distracted by the Windows 8 feature set, an even bigger question is how is Microsoft is going to be able to maintain it’s traditional business model of high revenue per seat in the enterprise market and high license revenue per machine in the PC market, in this new world of tablets and smartphones where prices are so compressed?
In the table below I suggest how that may be possible in which “no compromises” may also mean continuing with their current business strategy that goes along with their current business model.
[Updated April 30, 2012]
|April 30, 2012||Unit Testing iOS Apps with Xcode 4|
|March 2, 2012||iOS 5 SDK with Xcode 4 Essential Training|
|February 3, 2012||Titanium Mobile App Development Essential Training|
|December 8, 2011||iOS 5 SDK New Features|
|November 21, 2011||Using Regular Expressions|
|September 25, 2011||Building and Monetizing Game Apps for iOS|
|October 13, 2011||Building Android and iOS Apps with Dreamweaver CS5.5|
|July 14, 2011||Building Android and iOS Apps with Flex|
|April 29, 2011||Xcode 4 New Features|
|March 24, 2011||Objective-C Essential Training|
|February 24, 2011||Flash Professional CS5: Creating a Simple Game for iOS Devices|
|February 18, 2011||Distributing iOS Applications Through the App Store|
|February 4, 2011||Distributing Mac OS Applications Through the App Store|
|December 9, 2010||iOS 4: Building Data-Driven Applications|
|September 1, 2010||iOS 4 App Development New Features|
|July 15, 2010||iPhone SDK: Developing iPad Applications|
|October 20, 2009||iPhone SDK Essential Training|
Lynda.com is an essential resource for all Apple developers. Besides having training courses for Apple native software development, there are other courses which will help you with other things such as setting up your website, helping you with your artistic and design skills, and much more. I found that after I started looking at just the development-related stuff listed in the table below, my wish-list of things to watch started doubling and tripling as I discovered other things that I found important and interesting to me.
Here at the Information Workshop, we’re really into the importance of the Art of the Explanation, and the people at Lynda.com understand this art, science and technology to the fullest. Their explanations and instruction are extremely well done.
Even better, it’s very inexpensive. You pay Lynda.com a flat monthly fee of $25 for all you can eat and their buffet is excellent (cruise ship quality ). Furthermore, this pricing model works well because as information become stale, there may still be gems in the older stuff, such as the section on memory management in the almost two year-old iPhone SDK Essential Training that you can still take advantage of.
In the same way that you can move between devices and pick up where you left off when using iBooks or the Amazon Kindle, the same is true with Lynda.com instruction, which plays well on your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone and AppleTV with AirPlay, in high quality widescreen format.
Check it out and see for yourself. Before joining, you can sample 10% of every course to get a glimpse of what you’re going to get in that course, and sample the quality of Lynda.com.
I love visualizations because they communcate so much with little effort. Most visualizations are done with words because words are so convenient and usable by everyone. Graphical visualizations can be much more powerful but they’re usually restricted to 2D. Animated visualizations are even better. 3D visualizations that you can interact with are the best.
Here in the second decade of the 21st century, with so many 3D animated feature films around, you’d think there would be more 3D visualizations, but it looks like we’ll have to wait a little longer before that 3D technology makes its way down to being usable by regular people like you and me. But it’s long overdue! In the meantime, please enjoy the following…
What is it about Horace Dediu and asymco.com most of us find so remarkable?
Horace is one of the best analysts around who focuses on the mobile space. He describes his site as “Using words to punctuate the lyrical tale told by numbers.” He’s also great at creating visualizations from those numbers, and some are innovative, multidimensional, and animated. He’s a favorite of other sites that repost his work because much of what he produces is information we need, but which can’t be found elsewhere.
But there’s something about the man himself. Why are we all drawn to him, gush over him, and can’t get enough of what he has to say? Why did Dan Benjamin at 5by5 Studios interview Horace on The Pipeline and then give him his own show called Critical Path? Even Horace himself probably wonders that too. His humility makes him all the more endearing.
(Photo courtesy of this GigaOM article.)
[ Updated March 20, 2012] Here’s a list of the conferences that offer sessions related to native software development for Mac OS and iOS. Take care to note the problem with multiple concurrent tracks and ask whether all session videos will be available to conference attendees.
[Updated 2 Mar 2012] Estimating from the information cited below there are somewhere around 100K active developers working on Mac OS and iOS native apps world-wide.
[Update 2 Mar 2012] Apple’s “Creating Jobs Through Innovation” report cites 248K “registered” iOS developers in the US. On the down side, note that anyone can register for free, and this includes competitors. (“Enrolled” developers pay $99 per year and only enrolled developers can publish on the App Store, and that number is not cited by Apple.) On the upside, this does not include Mac OS developers, and this is just the United States, so I continue to stick with the 100K number I’ve estimated above, world-wide.
[Update 4 Oct 2011] Today in Apple’s iOS 5 / iPhone 4S keynote address, Apple said over 100K developers have downloaded the iOS 5 beta. Only those developers who are “enrolled” and have paid the enrollment fee ($99US) can download the beta (not those who’ve “registered” for free). But this 100K number also includes non-developers — people in the tech press, competitors, and those who have not actively participated in development but just want early access to the runtimes. So that reduces the number of actual active native app developers so somewhere between 50K and, say, 80K.
I got my domain names from Network Solutions years ago. And recently, when it came time to put up my site, it was only natural that I signed up for their hosting service, and then I loaded up WordPress. Unfortunately, for $19 per month, it would take 10 to 20 seconds to load my initial one page site. I confirmed this with others around the US, in addition to using mon.itor.us which would constantly report the site was down. (It wasn’t, it was just absurdly slow.) Yes, I had the W3 Total Cache Plug-In enabled.
That started my search for a fast, reliable host that everyone seems to trust. After too much time and effort, I still don’t really know. But then I found what I was looking for by a happy accident.
Take a few minutes and watch at least the first segment of Apple’s 2007 introduction of the iPhone. Over and over you’ll see insights into how Apple designs things. It’s quite revealing in retrospect. The incredible effort they put into coming up with a foundation that will last at least a decade and disrupt an entire industry is evident, and a great lesson.
The Structure menu above is the preferred way to find things.
My most important goal for this site is for us to talk to each other so please comment, and you can also Contact Me directly using the menu above.
San Diego, CA USA