I’m back for real.

I’ve been very busy the past three years with my latest job, and with my family life, and other things that eat time, so I’ve let this blog twist in the wind. I’ve decided to bring it back to life and to start writing pieces not about technology or programming but more about some of the experiences I’ve had in the past, specifically what’s going on with companies that I’ve used to be involved with, either as an employee or as a very involved party. Companies like IBM, NorTel, and Palm. I’ve been in this business for almost 33 years and I’ve had a lot of experiences, some good and some bad. I’ve also had time to look back and see what’s going on in the programming world in general, and there are lessons to be learned from some of the things I’ve witnessed.

And funny things happened, too. I hope to share some of those as well.

I do not plan to talk about anything relating to my current employer, Apple, so if you want any juicy tidbits about there, go somewhere else.

Acorn: Filter to save icons for Dropbox usage

I’m adding Dropbox support to my storyboarding application, and I use Acorn from Flying Meat Software to do most of my graphic work.  A while back Gus Mueller (Mr. Flying Meat) posted a plugin to save Acorn native images in both retina display format and in “regular” format.  To submit an app to Dropbox you should provide them with 16×16, 64×64, and 128×128 icons.  What I did was take Gus’s plugin and created one to save an Acorn native image in these formats for Dropbox.

As Gus shared his code, so I share my little swizzle on his work: (file: Save@Dropbox.jstalk)

// This script requires Acorn 3.0 or later, and goes in your
// ~/Library/Application Support/Acorn/Plug-Ins/ folder

function main(ciimage, doc, layer) {
  // make sure the file is saved, and make sure it's saved
  // as an Acorn file.
  if (![doc fileURL] || !([[doc fileURL] pathExtension] == "acorn")) {

  var path1 = [[[doc fileURL] path] stringByDeletingPathExtension] + "-16.png"
  var path2 = [[[doc fileURL] path] stringByDeletingPathExtension] + "-64.png"
  var path3 = [[[doc fileURL] path] stringByDeletingPathExtension] + "-128.png"

  // save our 128/128 first.
  [doc scaleImageToWidth:128];
  var opts = {'uti': 'public.png', 'file': path3};
  [doc webExportWithOptions:opts];

  // scale our image to 64x64 size and save it.
  [doc scaleImageToWidth:64]
  var opts = {'uti': 'public.png', 'file': path2};
  [doc webExportWithOptions:opts];

  // Now save our 16x16 image.
  [doc scaleImageToWidth:16]
  var opts = {'uti': 'public.png', 'file': path1};
  [doc webExportWithOptions:opts];

  // undo the scale
  [doc undo];

HP Sells 612 TouchPads on Woot

How’s that price cut working out for you, HP?

Seriously, I really wanted to like this device (I’m a long-time Palm developer), but it’s heavy, feels cheap (due to the plastic) and it’s slow.  Also, you have to do a lot of contortions to have a “regular” WebKit-based web app run in the browser (because WebOS intercepts touch events).  Palm (and, later, HP) have not done a good job of developer outreach, which might have mitigated the problem.

Right now WebOS devices are flying towards the “lost opportunity” category.


Appsterdam and the patent fight

Mike Lee is a very interesting character. What I really like and respect about him is not so much his achievements (which are considerable in and of themselves) but the fact that he knows he is free to speak his mind and does. I’ve found the things he says and does fascinating.

Take The Appsterdam Movement for example. It’s a very interesting idea – find a location where the laws and the overall environment are friendly to people from all places on they earth to live and work, then enhance it and encourage independent developers to join him. After traveling to various parts of the globe to check out candidate cities he chose Amsterdam in The Netherlands (hence “Appsterdam”). It’s an interesting experiment that I think warrants monitoring closely.

Now, With the rise of patent lawsuits going after indie developers Mike has done something wonderful. Patent litigation is expensive, time-consuming, and takes time away from indie developers that could be better spent building new products. To deal with this problem Mike has helped organize the “Appsterdam Legal Defense Fund“. In addition to helping indie developers to fight these lawsuits, the team is also planning to take the fight to Washington to help enact meaningful patent reform. Very big goals, and they will be going up against some large, powerful and well-monied parties.

I stand with Appsterdam on this. I think software patents are a bad idea, and I think that a requirement for enforcing a patent should be that you produce and attempt to sell a product that includes the patent. I’ve never heard of any innovation that came out of a patent lawsuit.

At some point a sane person has to stand up to this nonsense and say, “Enough!”. Thanks, Mike!

My new digs

This is my latest attempt at setting up a blog. I was previously using iWeb and Mobile Me to just play with those tools and get a sense of how limited they are. Believe me, as a blogging platform, iWeb is so heavy and limited.

Now I’m doing the WordPress thing, with my Twitter feed on the side. I’m also using Blogsy on my iPad to write entries (like this one).

Let’s see what happens.