Proud to be Mac!

My progress working through the Cocoa Programming for OS X book has stalled a bit, but it’s not what you might think. I’ve been preoccupied by all of those cool-bean Cocoa concepts I’ve been learning over the past two weeks. Reading tech books is one thing, but you don’t really get it until you code it. My journey to the Mac platformbsod started back in 2003, a time when I had become increasingly frustrated with the many failings of Windows.

Not sure why I feel the need to segue to my Mac past, but here I go anyway… Queue the nostalgic soundtrack.

It was bad enough I had to use Windows all day at work, but I decided I wasn’t going to put up with it at home as well. I needed a reprieve and purchased my first Mac on Ebay, an iMac late 2001 model.

iMac
My first Mac, a late 2001 iMac. I got many years out of this awesome machine! *Technically, I my first Apple computer was purchased on Ebay months earlier but those computers arrived busted.

I was stoked to learn more about this new platform. Could it live up to the reputation as being something different and better? I went down to CompUSA to purchase a copy of OS X, Panther (10.3) on the day of the launch. When I arrived I was surprised to find other Mac users had gather to get their own copies. It was the first time that I got a sense that this computer was something different not just because of the machine but the people were special too. They were different and were happy to embrace a computer that seemed to get them. I was curious to know the essence of what made a Mac a Mac. I would tune in to watch the WWDC keynotes where interim CEO Steve Jobs would present the state of the Apple union. It was great feeling part of that special development community. It was so fun learning about the Mac and the unique culture that came with it. I especially loved how the Mac had always distinguished itself from the pack, particularly in the “Think Different” era. (Who doesn’t love Clarus the Dogcow? clarus_dogcow– Moof! )  Apple has evolved a lot since those early days, but I believe the Mac is still a strong, unique and viable platform. Through the years I have come to love using my Mac at home. I may use Windows and such at work, but that just makes me appreciate the Mac even more. There are those who do not see the Mac this way and that’s fine with me. Every now and then I still like to get into it with the IT crowd who often frame Macs in terms of parts or specs, but the Mac guy in me says let it go. I’m a Mac and your a PC and there is room for everybody.

Okay, so back to my Mac development plan, I’ve decided that this year I am going for it. No excuses! I am determined to write an app and get it into the App Store. There, I said it so it has to happen. The Mac platform has really matured since the early days of Xcode development. I am surprised at how far Swift has come in such a short time. Xcode 7 is a terrific development environment. It’s great fun to get instant feedback on how much CPU or memory your app consumes as it is being developed. It’s like a giant sandbox or playground- well of course Xcode actually has a “Playgrounds”, so right there you can see you’re in for a whole lot of fun. Back when I started learning to program on the Commodore 64 I used to love typing in code and seeing what happened on the screen. Playground gives you the same freedom to experiment with ideas and see the the results play out before you. I highly recommend experimenting with your code in Playground. It is a great way to hone your skills without ever having to build and compile your code. As a build engineer by trade, I really appreciate that feature!

Well, I am off to do some Mac development… 🙂

 

Cocoa Programming in the Swift Era

After ordering a book from Chapters last Friday, I was pleasantly surprised to find Cocoa Programming for OS X, The Big Nerd Ranch Guide in my mailbox when I got home from work the following Monday! Shipping was free, so I was amazed it got to me so fast. 🙂

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Cocoa Programming for OS X series, 5th Edition is the gold standard for anyone wanting to learn how to program for the Mac.

I just love little surprises like this! I am a big fan of Chapters and although I love going out to the retail stores to grab a cup of Starbucks and peruse the latest paperbacks, it is nice to know that when you want a programming title, you can have it quickly and at a super price to boot – 33% off! That’s saying something now that our Canadian dollar is so weak. Yay for Chapters Indigo!

The Mac platform has changed a lot over the years, not to mention all of the language evolutions with Swift, so I needed a little help to bridge the gap and I am sure glad I picked up this latest edition of Cocoa Programming for OS X. Unlike my typical approach of skipping around to the good stuff, I’ve decided to diligently work my way through every chapter and do all of the programming challenges. I am already on Chapter 7 – Working with Table Views (ugh- I must confess that using Table Views is not my favourite Cocoa feature, not because it isn’t awesome but I am just not a fan of working with UI controls for spreadsheets). For the past week, I have been spending my every spare moment reading, programming and puzzling over the many mysteries of the Cocoa framework. This is not my first crack at Cocoa and I have to say there is quite a bit to absorb; programming in Cocoa is hhhhard… but really fun too. At first I was a little disappointed that Apple made the decision to abandon Objective C for Swift. I spent a good many years learning how to program in that language and I feared Apple was moving away from the technologies that made it great. What I found was that Swift is a really great technology, a worthy successor to Objective C. Now that I have been using Swift for the past month, I find that I love writing code in Swift. It is clear, succinct and easy to understand. To be honest, Objective C never really clicked with me and I don’t think it is a coincidence that I am having an easier time of learning Cocoa now that I can program my Cocoa apps in Swift.

Initially, I planned to do a post about my Cocoa adventures, but I have been a little distracted with all of the studying, learning and well, life. I am excited to apply my new skills to an app. I’ll keep you posted!


Happy Birthday Peady!  ???? ????

New Domain Provider

You might have noticed that my blog was offline in the early hours this morning. I just completed transferring my domain to a new service. Things are back to normal now and Adventures in Play is here to stay for another year. Yay! 🙂

In the meantime I am working on adding a little more life to this spartan 2016 WordPress theme. It would be great to create my own but I fear I don’t have the time for that. I’ll aim for a custom banner instead.

Blog Like It’s 2003

Is it too late to talk about 2016 like it’s still new? Maybe it is if you follow a strict routine and live clearly within the lines. From my perspective 2016 still has potential. I started blogging back in 2003 when blogging was a relatively new phenomena. It was about a decade after Wil Wheaton, but still early in the whole blog ecosystem. People were getting used to the Internet from the comfort of their desktops and couldn’t decide what to call it.. Is it a blog or a weblog? (to be followed years later by the great Tweet versus Twit debate) In those days, the iPhone and Android were yet to be invented, most people still had LAN phones, and Gmail did not exist.  Apple got in on the action and showcased the then new .Mac service which offered personal web hosting on the “Homepage”. Back then, I used a tool called iBlog (wow, it’s still around) to post my blogs. Sadly, my Homepage is long gone and my blogs are lost in time, but the idea of blogging still appeals to me. Today, blogging seems a bit antiquated and redundant having been replaced by the more succinct Twitter or the ever accessible Facebook. Professional bloggers care about SEO, driving traffic, and catchy media-rich posts. I’m in it just for the fun and I’m not all that concerned about my site stats. There are days when no one on the planet visits my blog. Statistically speaking, that is pretty amazing when you consider there are billions of people online. I’ve heard the criticism that people don’t have the time or patience to read anything longer than a sentence or two. Too bad, they should really slow down and savour my many meandering thoughts… I just spent about two hours discovering that my old website was somewhat preserved in the annals of the Archive Team whose motto is “We Are Going To Rescue Your Shit”. Cool, eh? I learned about an ancient file compression format called WARC- Web Archive. I downloaded my tarball and decompressed the WARC using these nifty Python ArchiveToolsI found my old MobileMe website and was even able to recover a lost video of my daughter’s piano recital! The Internet is a cool place. Here is a picture from my old webpage:

web

Well, back to Adventures in Play. Maybe I should rename this blog? Probably better if I just wrote something on a semi-regular basis. My blog feels like a really great book I bought a year ago that sits unread on my bookshelf, like a broken promise. No matter, I like it just the way it is. Adventures in Play just needs a little polish and a few more posts.

Until next time…

NaNoWriMo 2015

nanowrimo-logoApparently, I have been a member of NaNoWriMo for the past five years, but never had the gumption to participate. Why, you may ask? Well, for starters, it’s no small task to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. That’s 1667 words per day on average. Beyond the commitment of time, participating in NaNoWriMo is a little scary. After it’s all said and done, what if I produce a pile of utter nonsense?  What do I know about writing a novel? The only things I write are emails, technical documents and the occasional blog post. Certainly, I have never written a novel before. The whole process has always been a bit of a mystery to me, but maybe after doing this for a month, I will learn something about myself and gain a small appreciation for what writers do. I accept that my novel will very likely stink, but you have to start somewhere, right? This is new, exciting and yes, a little scary, and that’s why I am doing it. Why not step outside my comfort zone for 30 days?

If you would like to join in on the fun, you can get started here: http://nanowrimo.org

If you would like a writing buddy, my handle is runstop.

Now, I am going to prepare an outline for my first novel. I have a contest to win!

PS – My poor neglected blog will still be my poor neglected blog for the month of November. Afterwards, who knows… maybe I’ll start writing again.