Gaming Update, March 2017

Things have been pretty quite here so I thought I’d update you all on some things, you know the important stuff — like gaming!

First, what I’m not playing, World of Warcraft. I still love WoW. I think the Legion expansion went very well. I do however find myself playing it too much. As an example, I can sit down for a WoW play session and it will go on for hours, sometimes filling up most of the day. Whereas when I play other games I usually cap out at a healthy 90 minutes or so. Thats what I need to do so I can keep up with my work side projects as well as get into a pile of games I’ve bought over the last year but haven’t gotten into. I’m sure I’ll be back to WoW in time but I’m due for a good break.

So what am I playing? First up, I’ve been enjoying Dragon Quest Builders on the Switch the last two weeks or so. It’s a mix of Minecraft and live action RPG gameplay. It plays in the Dragon Quest 1 world and oozes nostalgia in it’s monsters, music and lore.

Next up is the Secret of Mana remake on PS4. This was one of my top games growing up and has an OST that I still listen to on a weekly basis while I work. The remake has been very controversial in gaming circles, mostly for the new music not living up to expectations. Overall I still prefer the SNES music as well but I don’t hate the remake at all. I find it a fun revisit to a classic game with a new flavor. And if you want the original music, it is included as a option.

Finally we have Pokemon Ultra Moon. I didn’t get too far into this remix version Generation 7 when it first came out. At the time I had just finished collecting the regional dex for Pokemon Sun so I ended up taking a break. Having been a few months out, it’s nice to be back. Despite the repetitive nature of the “remix” I still have fun. I even was lucky enough to get a Shiny Zorua for my early team.

What you playing? Ping me on Micro.Blog or email with your own gaming update.

2017 Retrospective

I’ve been kind of heads down with client work the last few months but wanted to say hi to those who still follow me here.

2017 was a bit of a sucker punch for me, but I survive.

After losing my job and having a neck surgery to open the year I was able to reboot my self employment under a new LLC. It took a few months but I finally landed some client work and have things pretty stable these days.

As for side projects I put a lot of time into OwlDeck in the spring but sadly it took a backseat to client work and revenue once summer rolled around. There is a good chance of it finding a second wind in 2018 as I have a bunch of teaching planned and it would be a great tool to have onhand.

I also decided this year to hand off my Philly CocoaHead responsibilities. I had been lead organizer for about 7 years and figured it was time. I still plan to be an active member but hope the extra hours can be put towards side projects in 2018.

Finally I’ve been learning new tech! I really want to get back into some web development and dedicated a fair amount of 2017 to relearning the web, from HTML5, to modern CSS (Flex, Grid, etc.) as well as new languages like Elixir and Elm.

My first Elm site is underway and I’ll share more as it comes together.

Thanks for checking in. Be sure to follow me on Micro.Blog as well. Have a great 2018!

Philly Blockchain Tech Meetup

Local geek friend Ben DiFrancesc­o is starting up a new meetup called Philly Blockchain Tech:

Don’t miss the first ever meeting of Philly Blockchain Tech! Special thanks to our gracious hosts, Elsevier, for providing the space, food, and beverages!

Pizza and drinks will be served at 6:00 PM. At roughly 6:30, we’ll hear two brief talks from our organizers. In addition to introducing the group, sponsors, and thoughts for the future, Ben will discuss “Why Technologists and Entrepreneurs Should be Excited About Blockchain” and Ryan will present “A Look at the Cryptocurrency Landscape” from a developer’s point of view.

After the talks, we’ll leave time for open discussion about the meetup. We want to hear from you about how you’d like to see this meetup evolve and what you’re hoping to get from it! Any remaining time will be for socializing and open conversation.

Please share this event with anyone you know who might find this interesting! While we hope to focus on technology and entrepreneurship, we welcome people with all experience levels and professional backgrounds!

RSVP if you plan to attend!

360iDev 2017 Takeaways

360iDev is a long standing iOS developer conference held out in Denver, Colorado. This was my first year attending after hearing many good things from friends. Some quick notes:

  • Sunday, was a pre-conference education day. It had a mix of full day and half day workshops. I think there was some good content to be had, but I don’t think the majority of the workshops were scheduled and paced right. Some felt like runaway session presentations, more than training. I will admit though I am very biased in what I like to see in my workshops / bootcamp environments being a teacher myself.
  • Monday saw the official kickoff of the conference. The opening keynote from Soroush Khanlou reviewed how his own blog had influenced his career and encouraged us all to share more, which I think is great.
  • The closing keynote on Monday came from Mike Lee and he tore apart the tech industry’s obsession with growth and how it has negatively impacted us all. He wasn’t afraid to point out how we enable it and I will say, while Mike’s loud presence can sometimes put me off, he does get me thinking.
  • Tuesday opened with a second blast of harsh reality with Jay Freeman’s, “That’s How You Get a Dystopia”. In this talk Jay pointed out how we are enabling some pretty scary scenarios, from the fragility of the Tor network, to Apple pulling VPNs from China. For more personal actionable ideas, Jay pointed out how we could augment our own data capturing methods to make sure if the data is ever breached its value could be lessened, eg: no need to capture the identifiable IP addresses of people when zip codes will do and are not 1:1 trackable).
  • Tuesday closed with a Stump the Experts panel and funny enough I ended up on the panel. (Must be my gray hair.) I was very happy to get an Apple IIc piracy/drm question right. Was also happy to hear Conrad’s Philly CocoaHead talk get quoted as a source to help the panel get 10 points for some other question.
  • On Wednesday, John (conference organizer) opened with a very transparent take on how this year conference went and it’s trajectory. While there are many positives experiences it was sad to hear the conference ended up running as a ~$10,000 loss this year. This is obviously a labor of love for John and his crew and to have a negative cash flow on top of all the volunteering is disappointing. They have started up a new Patreon to try help balance the loss. I’m signed up for a $10 monthly donation and if you want to support one of the longest running iOS conferences I’d love to see you join too.
  • Lunches came in the form of vouchers to visit the local eateries in favor of drab hotel catering which I think worked out great. Getting out of the hotel for some sun is a nice break too. My only real feedback here, would be to extend the lunch break a bit more, since I got the feeling more than a handful were late when returning and it’s not fair for the people doing presentations after lunch break.
  • The sessions themselves broke down into a mix of technical and social/skill topics and there were usually a choice of 3 or 4 per time slot. The fact that there were many hard choices is a good sign for the content’s quality.
  • I did two talks. One was on Running a Meetup and the other on Code Review. The Meetup talk had light attendance, which I kind of expected going in — it’s a niche topic. But, for the people who did come, they seemed to enjoy and I’m looking forward to seeing it hosted online for others. The Code Review talk saw a good crowd and many even stayed well after for discussion in favor of running out to lunch which I took as a good sign.
  • Walking away from the conference I’m very excited to get back to work and try some of these things out (both on current projects and new ideas). I also have a strong feeling to get more into open sourcing my code and in general sharing my work.

My thanks to John and all of the rest of the staff.

I’m Teaching a Half Day iOS Refactoring Workshop in July

When I re-entered the self-employed world last March and launched Zorn Labs LLC one of my main goals was to find a way to continue my education work. The first output of this effort has been workshops, specifically one on Refactoring iOS.

I’ve developed and taught the workshop for a local development studio Tonic Design and am now going to run it publicly.

iOS Refactoring Workshop

Throwing away bad code and writing something new from scratch is both risky and expensive. You need to avoid this temptation and instead learn to master small improvements over time.

Refactoring is the art of improving code without changing user behavior. Adding dedicated refactoring time to your workflow and sprints can pay for itself many times over in both added source code flexibility and application stability.

In this workshop we will review refactoring concepts from a high level and then explore example cases found in many iOS projects. As a group we’ll refactor and discuss the benefits of our changes. We’ll then work on our own (or in pairs) to execute what we’ve learned and then demonstrate the results for the class.

This workshop is targeted at those iOS developers who are getting over the hump of learning iOS and now want to know how to write higher quality iOS code. This workshop is capped at 12 people to make sure there is plenty of time for questions and individual attention.

Tickets for the half day workshop cost $189.00 even (we take care of all the ticketing fees). For more information on the agenda, see the event page.

Local performances of this workshop (and others in development) are available for corporate purchase. Contact us for more information.

Speaking at 360iDev, Come Join Us.

I’m happy to report some recent talk proposals were accepted and I’ll be speaking at 360iDev this August in Denver. I was already going to go to 360iDev regardless of the talks, I’ve heard great things from recent years, so this just makes the week that much more exciting.

360iDev Logo

My Talks:

Overcoming the Stress Surrounding Code Review, for the Betterment of Your Project and Career

Code Review is a practice where before a change is made to a code base, the code is first posted somewhere for peer review and critique. Code Review is an extremely productive way to catch problems before they are delivered to users as well as help individuals mature as programmers. In this talk we’ll explore Code Review by documenting the responsibilities of those involved, the person posting the code, the person (or people) reviewing the code, and then again back to the poster, as they react to the feedback given. In addition to the raw process of these stages we’ll also review the very human side of Code Review using real world stories, the good, the bad and the ugly. We’ll close with more general tips and tools that can help, as well as cover some of the how and why you might want to utilize these practices even in your own solo work. The best audience for this talk are people who are looking to improve their personal or team code processes. Those who attend will leave with very actionable strategies to execute productive code review on their own projects.

Starting, Growing and Running a Successful Developer Meetup

One of the most rewarding aspects of my career has been attending and then helping to run my local Apple developer meetup group. Meetup groups provide great learning opportunities but more importantly they provide great relationship opportunities for its members. In this talk I’ll share the story and lessons learned from running my local CocoaHeads chapter. After a quick review of the benefits and challenges of running a local developer group we’ll jump into actionable items for people starting, growing or running their own group. From defining success, to time expectations, marketing, sponsorship, planning content, tools and more. To close the session we’ll invite a few other group leaders from the audience to the front for a broad question and answer session about your specific issues and concerns. This talk is targeted at those who are running or would like to run a local developer meetup. It may also be helpful to those who attend a current group that needs guidance and/or focus.

If you are an iOS developer you should consider joining us. It’s going to be a great conference. Per CocoaHeads, use the coupon code “cocoacommunity” for 15% off all tickets.

Video: UIKit is Dead, Long Live UIKit!

Philly CocoaHeads held a joint meetup with our Android friends for Philly Tech Week. At said meetup there were a bunch of lightning talks, and I did one.

UIKit is Dead, Long Live UIKit!

With the introduction of Swift and the rise of functional programming ideals in the community, UIKit and its MVC heritage has become a bottleneck for new ideas. This talk speculates how Apple might overcome this in the years to come. Attendee should walk away with a curiosity about the other UI patterns being developed and a resource list to learn more.

UIKit is Dead, Long Live UIKit! from Philly CocoaHeads on Vimeo.

Related Reading:

I actually had a few vocal flubs in the recording (was a little stressed about the 10 minute limit) but figured I’d use the live one anyways since it has more humanity than me speaking to myself in my room. I hope you enjoy!

Meet OwlDeck, a New Mac Presentation App for Programmers and Markdown Geeks.

Today I’m launching the teaser site for my new app, OwlDeck.

OwlDeck is a new macOS presentation tool for programmers and geeks who need to display code and love Markdown.

If you are interested in OwlDeck I’d love for you to signup to its newsletter and email me your thoughts.

If you are interested in some behinds the scene stuff you can checkout the project journal I’ve been keeping over at Rested Experience. I hope to share more now that things are going public and timelines are set.

Really excited to be working on products again. :)