Hello internets. So sorry for the summer hiatus here on the blog. So what have you been up to? (Email me and say hi!)
I’ve been doing good. WWDC was a fun time in June and shortly after that I had 6 days down the shore with my family. At work, I’ve been on a Swift iOS project. It’s my first time using Swift in production and working along side John and Zac has been incredibly educational. I also was able to get on the road and do my first solo teaching gig for Big Nerd Ranch. I really do enjoy teaching and hope to get the opportunity to do more of it in the coming year.
In my off time I’ve been zoning out with video games, movies and the like. I bought a PS4 and have been mixing it in amongst my WoW and FF14 time. I do feel guilty as I keep meaning to start some productive side projects but I struggle to focus on programming after working a full day doing programming. We’ll see how the fall works out. Hoping to get some project inspiration from CocoaLove and Release Notes in October.
I also just (like a week ago) got a new car. Ended up buying a new 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport. It replaces my old 98 Ford Taurus workhorse. The Sonata is nice; very spacious and a nice mix of value and features. I’m really enjoying the iOS integration (used to use an external bluetooth speaker for podcasts and the like). With a little more confidence in my car now I’m actually hoping to hit to road a bit and do some visits to regional CocoaHead events and the like. If there is an event coming up you’d like to recommend let me know.
Well that’s it for now. Bring on the fall!
It’s June 1st and WWDC is right around the corner!
My wish list is set and I’m sure we’ll have lots to talk about in the weeks and months ahead. It’s going to be a great conference.
I won’t be at WWDC proper this year but will be in town, next door at AltConf. AltConf has a great speaker lineup unto itself and I believe it will also be live streamed.
If you see me in town, please introduce yourself. I love connecting a face to a twitter avatar of a cat.
Other notes and resources…
As for the parties, one good index of events is right here: https://2015.wwdcparties.com/.
Big Nerd Ranch is also reaching out to meet our fans. We are hosting breakfast and dinner meetups. More info: https://twitter.com/bignerdranch/status/604034663150059522
And finally, if you’ll be in Philly instead of San Fransisco, consider attending the CocoaHeads keynote steam event at the Apple Store: http://www.meetup.com/PhillyCocoaHeads/events/222711398/
While looking for a new job last year I slowly built a list of questions I would ask the various companies to help better understand if they were a good fit for me. Some of these questions are ripped from other blog posts, like The Joel Test, but many of them were from personal brainstorming and soul searching about what I wanted.
Hopefully this list helps those out there looking for something new.
- Pretend I know nothing about the company, how do you describe it?
- Who owns the company? What are their interests?
- How would you describe the company culture?
- What are its core values?
- How is this evident in everyday action?
- There is a great TED talk by Simon Sinek that has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” He describes a circle with the word Why? in the center and then moving outward, How? and then What? — Simon explains that most people can answer the What, what do they do? — some fewer still can answer the How — but the truly successful can answer the Why? Why do they do it? Why does your company do what it does? Why does this company sell paper towels instead?
- What can I see / download as a public example of your work?
- Name something the company is struggling with and how you are trying to fix it?
- Name something the company excels at? What are the lessons to be learned?
- What’s going to change at this company over the next year? three years? five years?
- How does upper management communicate with the company at large?
- How are projects and/or teams organized?
- How do teams communicate?
- How do you plan and track work?
- How do you estimate?
- Do people work on multiple projects at the same time? If so, how is time broken up?
- What is the process like from napkin idea to deployed feature / service? Where am I in this process?
- Who decides what to work on?
- Who is the designer? Do they work closely with the development team? How much to they appreciate, expand on norms of the various platforms?
- Is there a standard process for the handing off assets, specs, motion simulations from the design team to the development team?
- Do you ever do retrospectives? If so when? end of the sprint? end of the project?
- Do you ever have internal projects? How do they work?
- How would you split up my weekly hours between different responsibilities?
- How is customer support handled?
- Do I have any interaction with the customers?
Process (Client-based work)
- If I’m working on a client project, what is my interaction with them?
- How does pricing work for client projects? How is development involved in coming up with these figures? What would my responsibility be in this?
- How do you run employee reviews?
- How do you gauge employee happiness?
- Are there any company events? travel?
- Would I be required to interview people?
- Do you have an official interview process?
- Do new candidates write code during their interview?
- How does overtime work? Are people compensated for overtime?
- How does vacation work?
- Are there sick days? Long term sick days?
- Can people work from home? Do they?
- Is there a 401K?
- Is there a health plan? Dental?
- Is there on-site parking? Do I have to pay for it?
- Is travel involved for this job?
- Do you have a company manual? Can I have a copy?
- Do you have an org chart? Can I have a copy?
- How is the development group organized?
- Who do I report to? Who reports to me (if any)?
- How transparent is the company with regard to it’s goals, it’s plans, it’s money?
- How do you make sure the staff is continually learning?
- Do people get a dedicated budget for things like attending conferences, purchasing books?
- Do you allow people to travel to speak at conference during company time?
- How do you track staff technical skills? Current abilities, wanted improvements?
- Do you have an official mentoring system?
- Do you use the best tools money can buy?
- Do you have testers?
- Do you do hallway usability testing?
- Do you use source control?
- Can you make a build in one step?
- Do you make daily builds?
- Do you have a bug database?
- Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
- Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
- Do you have a spec?
- Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
- Do you do code review?
- Do you do pair programming?
- Can I have a tour of an active project’s code base?
- How many developers are there?
- What is the proficiency ratio between senior level / mid level / junior level developers in the company?
- Do you let people jump around from stack to stack or do most people stay focused on their specialty?
End of list. Best of luck with your job hunt!
After getting a solid recommendation from Curtis, who attended the Washington DC variant, this weekend I headed north to CocoaConf Boston. It was my first CocoaConf and so I went into the weekend with a lot of blurred expectations.
Spoilers: I say first with intention. TLDR; I had a really great time. The talks and speaker quality were really high and with luck I’ll be able to attend again during a future “tour”.
One of my expectations was size. I thought the attendee count was going to be a bit larger. It felt like ~130 but I’m not sure what the official number was. Not that a small count is bad for me but I’m used to educational events hosting more. I suspect part of this is that CocoaConf is hosting lots more venues now (three arguably “east coast cities” during this fall tour alone). This may make some events smaller but overall a win for the community so as to have more access for those who can’t travel far.
One thing that continues to make me proud is the people of our community. The attendees, the speakers and the event staff of CocoaConf are all incredibly friendly, approachable and inspiring. Meeting new people and catching up with old friends is a big reason why I like attending conferences and CocoaConf does a great job at supplying the “campfire” atmosphere to make that happen.
As for my favorite talks I’ll mention a few:
Daniel Jalkut’s “Quit Your Job” keynote and Rob Rhyne’s “Make Them Care” session were both very inspirational. I leave Boston really hungry to jump into some side projects of mine and get back into the product game outside of my client stuff at work.
For technical wisdom I have to give it up for the full day “Swift Kickstart” workshop Daniel Steinberg ran as well as the Swift and Objective-C: Best Friends Forever session by Jonathan Blocksom. CocoaConf Boston is now cemented as the place and time where I really started to appreciate what Apple is trying to accomplish with Swift. This isn’t to say we aren’t in for a bumpy ride but at least now I have a good frame of mind as to the “why” behind it all.
Finally, it was great to meet the people that run CocoaConf. Rather than some large corporation, CocoaConf is actually a family affair. Dave Kline and his family run most of the operation and they seemed very dedicated to making sure everyone had a good time. For all their hard work I say thank you and hope to see you all again soon.
CocoaLove was a huge success. All of the talks were well received and the attendee side conversations vibrant and interesting. I think I saw 2 laptops open all weekend which to me is a huge sign people were engaged with our content. If you missed out, check out the CocoaLove site for some highlights of our tweet/photo live stream.
While they’ll never capture the event in its full glory, we did record the presentations and will be editing them over the next few weeks to make the available on the web. To find out when the videos are up I’d signup to the mailing list or follow the @CocoaLoveConf twitter account.
I want to thank my fellow organizers, the speakers and the attendees for helping provide a weekend I’ll remember forever.
In particular I’ll give special props to Curtis whom sacrificed countless hours attending to hundreds of details that resulting in a level conference quality that is hard to achieve. Great job!
It’s September, which means next month is October, which means CocoaLove is coming up fast!
We’ve got a great weekend planned and if you haven’t already secured your ticket I’d do so now since we are starting our last marketing push to sell out.
Additionally, if you or a company you know are interested in sponsoring to help show your support for CocoaLove let me know. CocoaLove is passion project from some great folks out of our local CocoaHeads chapter who have donated countless hours in helping to organize this incredible non-profit event. Sponsor support will help us reach our stretch goals and make an already great experience that much better.
See you all soon!
Software as Craft Philadelphia
A community of professionals dedicated to well-crafted software
Was very happy to attend the inaugural meeting of this group last week. Was a great mix of discussion and hands-on coding/pairing. Thanks to Promptworks for hosting.
During the discussions, the Software Craftsmanship North America conference (as well as its manifesto) were mentioned. You can find a bunch of the conference videos on the eighthlight vimeo channel. Seems like pretty interesting stuff.
In related news (since I think all hosts were in attendance at said meeting), I want to give a plug to the podcast Turing-Incomplete podcast. Finally starting to catch up on this Philly showcase of talent and really enjoying the discussions. Keep up the good work!
I’d hate to go a month without posting so here’s some random updates!
Philly CocoaHeads is going as strong as ever. Our WWDC June meeting filled the Apple Store Briefing Room to capacity (~50 people!) with lots of excited geeks. Our Side Project Saturday events continue to see some steady growth (15 people at the July event) and generate lots of interesting conversation and shared ideas. (Funny enough we were talking app bubbles right along side Edge Cases this week even though I didn’t know their topic at the time.) Finally our workshops are finally kicking back into gear with an Intermediate Objective-C course coming in August and a more beginner friendly Introduction to iOS Development course via the Girl Develop It group in September. Philly CocoaHeads is becoming so formal in fact I think we’re going to take the plunge and make it a legit non-profit group to help clean up the financial side of things.
In addition to CocoaHeads, there is also CocoaLove — our upcoming Fall conference. I’ll be doing the main talk Friday night and I’m doing my best to keep the topic upbeat despite my pessimistic tendencies. Big props to Curtis Herbert for really spearheading this event. It looks to be a really interesting and fun weekend. Buy your ticket while you can!
Through my job at Tonic Design things are busy. I have two projects right now, One is for a startup while another an internal app for a large corporation. Sadly these are not public right now so details will have to wait. That said, I’ve been spending a ton of time with iOS animations and I have two things to say. One, the Facebook Pop system is pretty cool and worthy of your time to play with. Two, I’m working on an abstraction system that should help apps with large amounts of animation stay organized. More to come soon on that.
At home, side projects have been back burnered, mostly for CocoaHeads stuff. I am spending time reading up on Swift and playing a little with Go but I’m also trying to keep plenty of time for playing games and relaxing. Can’t be focused on code all the time.
So thats it for July. Hope the summer is treating you all well. Hope to share more soon.
Through my position with the Philadelphia CocoaHeads chapter I am often approached by people who are interested in learning how to program for iOS. The follow presentation serves as a collection of helpful information and recommendations for such people.
Getting Started with iOS Development from Mike Zornek on Vimeo.
Sorry for the dead air over the last few months. Things got a bit hectic at my job and I couldn’t seem to find the free time to post. On the plus side, things are starting to calm down. We’ve shipped some more software and I’m finally catching up with some side projects.
One project which I started at the March CocoaHead Hackday is GoldCards. It’s an iOS reference tool for Hearthstone.
While I want this to be a Universal (iPhone and iPad) app in time I think I’m going to finish up a few more loose ends and release it as an iPhone-only app for now.
Another big side project is CocoaLove, an iOS-focused conference coming to Philly. I’m on the planning committee (sponsorship and AV to be specific). I’d also like to help build a simple conference app with the schedule and what not. Shouldn’t be too hard considering my history with such things.
In addition to all that I’m also trying to catch up with some web tech, Ember and Node to be precise. There are a few things on my idea board that could utilize such skills so I’m taking some time reading books and going through Code School examples to catch up.