Developing Perspective

#23 - New iPhones


00:00:00   Hello, and welcome to Developing Perspective.

00:00:03   Developing Perspective is a near-daily podcast discussing the news of note in iOS, Apple,

00:00:07   and the like.

00:00:08   I'm your host, David Smith.

00:00:09   I'm an independent iOS developer based in Herndon, Virginia.

00:00:12   This is show number 23, and today is Thursday, September 8, 2011.

00:00:17   The format of Developing Perspective is that I'll cover a handful of links, articles, things

00:00:21   that I found interesting since the last show, and then move over to a more general discussion

00:00:25   towards the end.

00:00:26   The show will never be longer than 15 minutes.

00:00:28   Let's get to it.

00:00:29   All right, our first link today is entitled "Lessons from Valve, How to Build a Designer's

00:00:34   Paradise."

00:00:35   I mean, if you're not familiar with, Valve is one of the most sort of renowned game sort

00:00:40   of development and design studios that there probably is.

00:00:44   They're responsible for sort of some amazingly canonical games, things like Half-Life is

00:00:50   probably the most famous example.

00:00:52   And this is just an interesting article kind of talking about what it's like to work there,

00:00:56   of their environments like, how they've structured things.

00:01:00   And some of the things they say are just kind of interesting.

00:01:02   And I'm not a game designer or developer myself,

00:01:06   but it's just kind of interesting to get inside and see

00:01:10   how they do what they do when they're so successful at doing

00:01:13   what they do.

00:01:13   And so it's just kind of worth taking a look

00:01:15   at if you're at all interested in just different office

00:01:18   environments and how they work.

00:01:20   Next, there's a really fascinating article

00:01:22   I found in an unexpected place.

00:01:25   And so it's on the blog of Tim Ferriss, who's

00:01:28   kind of famous for his 4-Hour Workweek, 4-Hour Body series

00:01:34   of books.

00:01:34   He's kind of a life hacker extraordinaire.

00:01:38   And it's kind of interesting because I was reading his blog,

00:01:41   and I found this article about Pivotal Labs.

00:01:44   And Pivotal is kind of a very famous software consulting

00:01:48   company out there, especially famous in the Rails world

00:01:50   where I first ran into them.

00:01:53   And it's talking-- there's an interview here

00:01:55   with a guy named Rob Mee, who I think

00:01:57   is one of the directors or heads there.

00:01:59   And it's kind of a fascinating article,

00:02:02   because it kind of walks through,

00:02:04   I guess you could call, some of the myths of software

00:02:07   engineering.

00:02:08   And so for example, some of the myths

00:02:10   are you have to hire ninjas.

00:02:12   Programmers need to work in a quiet environment

00:02:15   without interruption.

00:02:16   Startups need to run hot, and you've just

00:02:19   got to burn everyone out.

00:02:20   Looming deadlines necessitate shortcuts.

00:02:23   Developers should take ownership of their code.

00:02:26   And you need to have a quirky hiring process.

00:02:28   And these are just some of the things that he talks about.

00:02:30   But it's just kind of interesting to get

00:02:32   kind of the inside look at a company that is clearly

00:02:36   doing very, very well, and doing so in a way that is perhaps

00:02:40   a bit counterintuitive, or maybe a bit runs to the contrary,

00:02:44   to what a normal startup mindset or those types of things are.

00:02:48   And I agree with a lot of what he says. And I think a lot of what he said, the big thing about it is, it's about sort of building something that's sustainable. And that sort of creates skill within your within your sort of team that allows you to not worry about sort of rough situations.

00:03:06   I think he gives a really interesting analogy where he compares the way that, for example,

00:03:12   a team of army seals or something like that, an elite group of people in the military handle

00:03:20   a very stressful situation.

00:03:22   And it's not that they all go crazy and start sort of doing things out of their normal habit,

00:03:28   which is sort of a way that a lot of companies kind of expect development to happen where

00:03:33   you're kind of cruising along, you're cruising along, and then all of a sudden, oh, no, we're

00:03:36   short, we need a deadline. Everyone, it's 24/7, everyone's got to work crazy hours,

00:03:42   bring in the Mountain Dew. Whereas you see, you know, some of these examples of people

00:03:48   who do amazing things under imagine, you know, crazy pressure, they just do what they always

00:03:53   do. They do what they're trained to do. They do it, you know, they just that's how they

00:03:56   work. They sort of, they've planned ahead enough that they've adapted to that situation.

00:04:02   And I think it's just an interesting example. And there's a lot of other little nuggets

00:04:05   like that in that article that I definitely recommend checking out.

00:04:09   Next, there's a really kind of fascinating thing.

00:04:11   And it's a little bit tangential to what I normally talk about here.

00:04:15   But I just thought it was absolutely gorgeous.

00:04:17   And basically, someone redesigned the London Tube map.

00:04:23   So if you've ever been to London, there's

00:04:24   this very, very famous looking map that you'll

00:04:28   have for the London Underground.

00:04:29   And it's very square.

00:04:33   It looks a lot like a circuit diagram.

00:04:35   And the problem with it, however,

00:04:38   is that it's actually very non-representative of how

00:04:41   the actual layout of the trains are.

00:04:44   A lot of the trains are laid out on the map

00:04:47   so as to look as though they are all the lines run north, south,

00:04:53   or east, west for the most part.

00:04:55   And the problem with that is, of course,

00:04:56   that doesn't match what's actually

00:04:57   happening on the ground.

00:04:58   And so you have this funny thing where this abstraction

00:05:01   that someone came up with to make the map very readable

00:05:04   actually made it less useful.

00:05:05   And they have some interesting data in there

00:05:07   about how 30% of people actually take

00:05:09   a route that is non-optimal for them on the London Underground

00:05:12   because the map kind of looks like that would be quicker.

00:05:16   But in reality, it's not.

00:05:17   So this guy redesigned the London Underground map,

00:05:20   and the result is just gorgeous and something

00:05:22   that I would definitely-- if you're going to London,

00:05:25   it's definitely worth checking out from a usefulness

00:05:27   perspective.

00:05:28   And it also just from a design perspective,

00:05:30   where you can kind of see something

00:05:32   that I think has become so sort of almost expected,

00:05:36   or it's just such a part of London, sort of London,

00:05:41   in many ways.

00:05:42   And he took it, and he reinvented it

00:05:44   in a really interesting way.

00:05:45   And so definitely just worth checking out.

00:05:47   It's kind of interesting to think

00:05:48   about that in a lot of other ways of what

00:05:50   are some that we take for granted

00:05:51   and could potentially do with a bit of changing.

00:05:55   And then lastly, I have a link to a review of the Pomodoro Technique Illustrated, which

00:06:01   is a great book, highly recommended.

00:06:03   I have a copy of it and it's just a really nice thing.

00:06:07   The Pomodoro Technique, if you're not familiar with it, I think I talked about it before

00:06:10   on the show, but it's a way of creating focus and motivation by breaking down tasks into

00:06:16   25-minute chunks.

00:06:17   And there's a bit more to that, but basically it's about saying it's hard to sometimes wrap

00:06:22   your hands around a large task.

00:06:24   saying, oh gosh, I want to build this whole feature.

00:06:26   I want to write this whole book.

00:06:27   I'm going to do this whole thing.

00:06:29   But it's much easier to say, OK, I have 25 minutes.

00:06:31   What can I do?

00:06:32   And you define that out.

00:06:34   And this technique is a bit more beyond just that,

00:06:36   because you can create armatures and frameworks around that

00:06:40   so that you can get your work done better.

00:06:43   And that process is more effective.

00:06:45   But it's just kind of interesting.

00:06:47   I was reading his review of that book,

00:06:49   and I thought it was kind of interesting.

00:06:51   So definitely just worth checking out.

00:06:54   especially because his notes are kind of-- he gives you

00:06:56   a nice sort of summary of the book

00:06:57   that you don't need to necessarily go and get it,

00:06:59   though I would recommend it.

00:07:01   All right.

00:07:01   And lastly, I'm just going to have a brief discussion today

00:07:05   talking about the iPhone 5.

00:07:08   Ooh, the iPhone 5.

00:07:10   Everyone knows it's coming.

00:07:11   Everyone knows it's due any day, probably about a month from now

00:07:15   when I'm recording this.

00:07:16   I think we're expecting it early October.

00:07:18   At this point, it's probably waiting mostly on iOS 5

00:07:22   to be ready rather than necessarily the hardware

00:07:24   because they're going to have to be geared up and ready to do

00:07:28   all the production for that.

00:07:30   So it's very unlikely at this point.

00:07:31   If it's not ready, they're going to have some bigger problems.

00:07:34   But the interesting thing that I was kind of struck by

00:07:37   is how increasingly now, I don't think it matters as much

00:07:41   as it used to.

00:07:42   I think the-- in terms of when I was--

00:07:45   I remember back in the day when the first iPhone came out,

00:07:48   the 3G came out.

00:07:50   It was a big deal.

00:07:51   was a massive change in functionality there.

00:07:54   And most importantly, they added the App Store around the same time.

00:07:58   And that was obviously massive and huge.

00:08:00   The 3GS, it was kind of a blah thing.

00:08:02   But what it did do is add video.

00:08:05   And I think that was a big step in a big direction.

00:08:08   Then they came up with the iPhone 4.

00:08:10   And the iPhone 4 is an amazing device in such a small space.

00:08:14   It does pretty much everything you could think of.

00:08:17   And you look at all of its competition and things

00:08:20   that if you are kind of one of those Walt Mossberg guys who

00:08:23   does the reviews and kind of brings up

00:08:26   all these checklists of, oh, it should do this,

00:08:28   oh, it should do that.

00:08:29   And the thing is, I find very few things at this point

00:08:32   that it doesn't do that I would like it to do.

00:08:34   There's a few things it could do maybe better.

00:08:36   Have a slightly sharper camera, a few things like that.

00:08:40   But they're not really fundamental changes.

00:08:42   They're not really improving the phone itself.

00:08:45   You could have different phones.

00:08:46   You could say to people who are like, oh, well,

00:08:47   I want a smaller one.

00:08:48   I want a bigger one.

00:08:49   I want one in different colors, those types of things.

00:08:53   But it doesn't really change the fundamental dynamics

00:08:56   of the phone.

00:08:56   I mean, Apple could certainly surprise me and throw something

00:08:59   in there that I can't even imagine,

00:09:02   and that would be amazing and cool.

00:09:04   But I think it's an interesting tipping point

00:09:05   for the maturity of the platform, where

00:09:09   I think at this point, we're going to kind of transition

00:09:11   from this kind of revolutionary change

00:09:14   into a more evolutionary change.

00:09:16   And that's a good thing.

00:09:17   I think as a developer, that's great,

00:09:19   because we'll increasingly be much more standardized

00:09:23   and much more--

00:09:25   it's kind of everything will be much the same.

00:09:27   And so if you're designing for usability,

00:09:29   you're designing for aesthetics and ergonomics,

00:09:33   I think this is roughly the shape and form factor

00:09:35   that we'll be expecting.

00:09:37   And I think it will be really great in terms of also

00:09:39   just because it's a really great design.

00:09:41   I mean, the iPhone 4, this was probably

00:09:43   the best of the best designed and best engineered computer

00:09:47   I've ever owned.

00:09:47   I've owned a lot of pretty interesting computers.

00:09:51   So it's just one of those things that I was thinking about recently, and it's just kind

00:09:53   of nice that I'm excited for when the new iPhone comes out, and I'll almost certainly

00:09:58   be in line in the middle of the night, make sure I get my hands on one in the first day.

00:10:02   But that's not because it's doing something that I can't do now.

00:10:05   That it's not that it's something new and better.

00:10:08   It's just it'll be that little bit of extra sort of icing on top of the cupcake that just

00:10:14   makes it that much sweeter.

00:10:15   And that's great.

00:10:16   all I want and I would be perfectly happy with that.

00:10:21   It's the classic thing.

00:10:22   If it's the iPhone 4 but with the A5 chip in it and that's the only slightly sharper

00:10:29   camera or whatever, I'll buy one.

00:10:31   That's great.

00:10:32   I'd be delighted with that and I think it's just an interesting point that we've hit in

00:10:37   the iPhone market.

00:10:38   I think the iPad will continue to change and develop a lot for at least the next couple

00:10:41   of years but I think the iPhone may have sort of settled down a little bit but I guess time

00:10:45   will tell.

00:10:46   Alright, that's it for today's show. Hope you enjoyed it.

00:10:48   And yeah, have a good day, happy coding, and I'll talk to you later. Bye.