Appcessories Give iPhone More Senses
Thursday, December 01, 2011, by Sebastian Dwornik

iPhone sixth sense

Extending the iPhone into real world applications has been a growing trend, and now with the advent of appcessories, concepts like heart rate monitoring and other environmental/urban sensing can gain popularity to grow a more sentient city through new intelligent sensors that connect to your iPhone.

It’s like gaining a sixth sense, and possibly beyond.

 

CLI Control of Wi-Fi in OS X
Tuesday, November 08, 2011, by Sebastian Dwornik

CLI Control of Wi-Fi in OS X



I needed to be able to switch between two Wi-Fi connections in OS X during development of a certain project and it quickly became disruptive to my workflow to always reach for the mouse and use the menu bar.









So I made the following alias commands for use within Terminal on the command line interface.

alias adhoc='networksetup -setairportnetwork en1 <adhoc SSID>'
alias wifi='networksetup -setairportnetwork en1 <my wifi SSID> <WPA2 password>'

Hope this helps others, as it greatly improved my own efficiency.

 

Strip Trailing Whitespace in Xcode 4
Tuesday, November 01, 2011, by Sebastian Dwornik

XCode 4 is great.  But it has some annoyances.  One of which is inserting whitespaces in your code as if they were breadcrumbs to mark your path in case you get lost.

Thanks to Brian Cardarella for originally working this out, I simply modified his script to handle *.h and *.m files.

Simply create your own shell script  (e.g. stripWhitespace.sh) and insert the following contents:

#!/bin/sh

find . -name "*.[hm]" -type f -print0 | xargs -0 sed -i '' "s/[[:space:]]*$//"


Lastly set a 'Behavior' in XCode to run the script with a shortcut.

strip whitespace in XCode

Voila!

It will clear all of the whitespace within your entire projects directory for all files ending in *.h and *.m .

Enjoy!

 

The Importance of Design
Wednesday, October 12, 2011, by Sebastian Dwornik

REUTERS/On Courtesy/Jonathan MakIn my youthful years of programming computers I threw caution to the wind and jumped straight into code.  For all the talk about specs., documenting, and mockups, my mind raced far too quickly to be slowed down by UI design and other considerations.

Now over a decade later, with my brain a little wiser, and albeit a little slower, I realize the truth that although code is no doubt important, design trumps all.

This isn’t news.  But a refreshed realization, especially with the passing of Steve Jobs, who above all else, cherished and expressed the importance of good design.

Thank you Steve, for making us care about design again.


 

ChooseBot: Your Personal Decision Making Assistant
Saturday, October 01, 2011, by Sebastian Dwornik

ChooseBot on iPhone
A few years ago I wrote about how all future mobile devices will become more intelligent.

That they will eventually “contain a form of general A.I. (artificial intelligence) to aid in basic day to day decision making.  Think of it as your personal automated assistant, but with access to an entire planet’s knowledge base and with real-time information”.

In recognition of my belief in such tools, I present ChooseBot.

While the app is still short of becoming a form of Skynet, it can aid in potentially simplifying certain decisions, as well as predicting others.

Each decision is constrained by the choices you provide it.  Surprisingly though, on average the random outcome is usually no better than a human’s guess.

It’s fun, useful, and can save you time instead of procrastinating over a set of simple choices.

Check it out!

 

Adapting to OS X
Saturday, September 10, 2011, by Sebastian Dwornik

Transitioning from a PC to the Mac world can take some getting used to.

Below is my list of apps, utilities, and tweaks I have recently installed to tame OS X (Lion) into submission and have it conform to my workflow.
Terminal app

First off, the Terminal app needs some customization.  And although it's Unix and not DOS, some habits are difficult to break.  Besides, typing 'dir' is still less effort than 'ls -la' all the time.




SMC Fan control
All laptops generate heat.  The i7 MacBook Pro is no excepton.  This little utility lets me keep an eye on the temperature and also provides a handy fan control status.



Launch it
Keyboard shortcuts are amazing at improving the efficiency of using the computer.

For some reason though, OS X doesn't do a good job of providing enough flexibility to map a keyboard shortcut to any app (like Windows).

Thankfully the Mac App store has LaunchIt.
It's cheap, single purpose, and works very well.



Function Flip


Sometimes it's the little things that are needed, like the ability to refresh a web page or Finder view, by simply hitting F5.




TextWrangler


Althought the default TextEdit app is fine for simple notes, replacing it with TextWrangler makes life much easier.  It's free, fast, and does what I need it to do quite well, like column selection and multiple file searching.











Some other bits and pieces

TRIM supportI replaced the internal HDD with my own Intel SSD.  Afterwhich, enabling TRIM within OS X Lion was necessary.  Even though I didn't really notice any difference in performance.   :/


Finally, I must admit that the gestures support on the huge trackpad are simply awesome.  I feel like I'm in the future.

Well done Apple.

 

Apple Gift Cards in Canada = FAIL
Tuesday, July 26, 2011, by Sebastian Dwornik

apple gift card in canada failYou would never suspect a company the likes of Apple to get in the way of wanting me to buy a shiny, new Macbook Pro from them.  But in Canada, when you're armed with an Apple Gift Card, there could be some hurdles.

I returned some Christmas gifts last December (2010) and their cost was transferred to an Apple Gift Card (not an iTunes Gift Card) totaling about $1000.

With a refresh of Apple's new laptop models recently, my next step was to then simply go to Apple's online store, build up my Macbook Pro (2.2GHz i7, 4GB DRAM, 750GB HDD, 15-inch Hi-Res Antiglare Widescreen Display), and use the money on the Apple Gift Card to help subsidize the cost when paying for it.

It's a simple process I presumed.  Something I've done many times at other online vendors.

But after countless minutes of scanning the online checkout screen and reading the FAQ, I still could not find any place to input my Gift Card number.  So I then called the 1-800-MY-APPLE hotline to ask for help on this issue.

"This shouldn't be complicated", I thought to myself.

The kind operator cleared this up very simply by responding, "I'm sorry, but Apple Gift Cards are not supported in the online store in Canada".

"Why!?", I asked.

She replied, "due to your various tax laws, we find it hard to keep up with them and so we just don't support it.  You can only use the Apple Gift Card inside an Apple Retail Store".

So the next day I traveled downtown to the Toronto Eaton Centre Apple Retail Store and was met at the door with a cheerful store manager, named Jason.  I explained my bewildering online experience and his offer to help was to push me off to one of the floor techies (Eddie) in the hopes that we could work this out.


The Fun Never Ends

I then repeated my story about the online store challenge to Eddie at which point we looked at some Macbook Pro's.

I explained to him the Macbook Pro spec's I wanted and the conversation went downhill when I mentioned my request to include the '15-inch Hi-Res Antiglare Widescreen Display' option.

why you do this kittyEddie:  "We don't offer customized builds in the Retail Store. I'm sorry but such features are only available in the online store"
me: "But I can't use my Apple Gift Card in the online store"
Eddie:  "I'm sorry."
me: "Can we perhaps just order it right here, right now, and have it shipped to your store, so that I can pay for it here with my Gift Card?"
Eddie:  "I'm sorry.  The Apple online store and the Apple Retail store are two separate entities and we operate as such"
me: "So I can't use the Apple Gift card online, and I can't get what I want in the Apple Retail Store from what's online, just so that I can use this damn Gift Card, what should I do with it?"
Eddie:  "Maybe you can sell it?  On kijiji?"
me: "Seriously!?"
Eddie:  "I'm sorry."

I walked out amazed, shaking my head in disbelief, thinking that maybe I'm not meant to own a Macbook Pro.


So here I am ...

... stuck with an Apple Gift Card in Canada, and shocked by the policies and business practices that Apple uses to inhibit potential customers from buying their products using their own Gift Cards.  Something that many other companies have figured out to do quite well.

And I'm not the only one with this experience.


Stubborn Perseverance Is Your Only Hope

PerseverenceSo the next morning I called the Apple Customer Support Line (1-800-676-2775), connected with Blaine (in Canada), and once again explained my story about the online store issue with Gift Cards.

After he confirmed the Gift Card failure on his own terminal, he put me on hold for 15 minutes while he discussed this problem with the Customer Relations department.

Upon return the only two options he provided were:

1. Contact the Apple Corporate office in Canada.
2. Go back to the Apple retail store that issued this card and talk to the manager about a special order.

Having doubts that the Apple Corporate office would be effective and possibly lose me in their bureaucracy,  I decided to try option #2, and called the Square One Apple Retail Store where the Store Manager, Kathleen, heard my desperate plea and took it upon herself to investigate the Gift Card and how to extract money from it.

After a few more telephone conversations with her, she finally permitted the transfer of the Gift Card balance to my VISA.  So, once again I traveled down to the Square One Apple Retail Store, where a regular Apple employee performed the transfer.

Later that afternoon I returned home to ultimately complete my online order.

Apple store thank you

3 days, many phone calls, car trips, and added frustration, I was at long last able to complete the transaction with the Gift Card money.

But it shouldn't have been this difficult.

Apple, if you're reading this, you really need to improve your communication about this issue in Canada, or better yet, get your online store in Canada to accept your Gift Cards!

 

... 21st century will be defined by the interface
Tuesday, July 05, 2011, by Sebastian Dwornik

“19th century culture was defined by the novel.
 20th century culture was defined by the cinema.
 The culture of the 21st century will be defined by the interface.”

— Lev Manovich

touch interface

 

Simplicity Can Sometimes Make Things Complicated
Sunday, June 05, 2011, by Sebastian Dwornik

Apple keyboardTake Apple's keyboard on their laptops for example.  Without dedicated 'Home', 'End', 'Page Up', and 'Page Down' keys, users must now resort to a less intuitive process of using 'Fn+Up Arrow' for 'Page Up'.  'Home' and 'End' are an 'Apple key + Left/Right Arrows'.

There is still enough space on the laptop available for Apple to add those keys.  Why they don't is I'm guessing presumably a "Steve Jobs thing".

Users coming from most PC environments will eventually adapt.  But this one example, I believe is where "thinking different", doesn't seem to make much sense to me.

Being a developer, one of the absolute most important tools you need is a good keyboard that permits you to move the cursor around as quickly as possible.

Thankfully Apple still makes a full keyboard with numeric keypad.

Happy typing!

 

Build and Analyze Podcast
Sunday, May 01, 2011, by Sebastian Dwornik

build and analyze podcastI just discovered the Build and Analyze podcast.

It's a show about the world of iPhone, iPad, iOS, and mobile web development.

And it's awesome.

Very well produced with good sound quality recording, and the hosts, Dan Benjamin and Marco Arment, do a great job of sharing intimate details of developing for the iOS world.

The digression is pretty high at certain times, but there are some great gems of info with respect to code, sales, and marketing your iOS apps.

I recommend this to any new iOS developer.

 

Welcome to my App World

My name is Sebastian Dwornik and I am an entrepreneur located near Toronto, Canada.

Here you will find my thoughts on all matters regarding software, design, business, and sometimes life in general.

Have feedback? Don’t be shy and post your comments within the forum.


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