Developing Perspective

#24 - Staying focused.


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

00:00:03   Developing Perspective is a sometimes daily podcast discussing the news of Note and iOS,

00:00:07   Apple, 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 24, and today is Friday, September 16, 2011.

00:00:16   The format of Developing Perspective is I'd typically talk about a couple of articles,

00:00:20   links, things I found interesting since the last show, and then move over to a more general

00:00:24   discussion towards the end.

00:00:25   This show will never be more than 15 minutes.

00:00:28   Let's get started.

00:00:29   All right, for the links today, I have just a couple

00:00:31   of short ones.

00:00:32   First one is just an interesting read I found over on--

00:00:35   I think it's the Wikipedia in simple English,

00:00:39   which I'm not entirely sure of the origins of that.

00:00:42   But it's just a really interesting read talking

00:00:44   about P versus NP.

00:00:45   And if you're not familiar with that,

00:00:47   that's kind of a computer science,

00:00:50   software engineering kind of term

00:00:53   for categorizing different kinds of problems.

00:00:55   And essentially, there's a P problem,

00:00:57   which is a polynomial problem, something

00:01:00   that is easy for a computer to solve in reasonable time.

00:01:03   And an NP problem is, at this point,

00:01:05   a problem that appears to only be solvable in a very hard way,

00:01:09   in a way that you have to try lots of possibilities,

00:01:12   that you have to do things.

00:01:14   And they tend to take exponential time.

00:01:17   And that's a fairly bad explanation

00:01:18   that I just gave you.

00:01:19   And this article gives you a very much better explanation

00:01:23   on walking you through how this works, why it's important.

00:01:26   And if you're at all kind of, it's just kind of one of those interesting things, you know,

00:01:30   that doesn't really, if you could solve the problem, you'd be, you know, rich, wealthy,

00:01:34   and, you know, very popular.

00:01:37   But at this point, it's more just kind of one of those interesting things.

00:01:40   And the thing that I find most interesting about P versus NP is it's one of these problems

00:01:44   that's very important and a lot of very smart people have thought about it and worked on

00:01:48   it.

00:01:49   And we still don't know if there is, it's sort of, it's true and if there is sort of,

00:01:53   if it's-- without getting too much into it.

00:01:56   Whether it's possible to solve an NP problem, NP time,

00:02:00   is this-- that's the problem.

00:02:01   And no one knows.

00:02:03   It's just one of the-- they can't prove it either way,

00:02:04   and it's just one of those open problems.

00:02:06   And I just think that's kind of cool,

00:02:08   when you have something that's been like that way for years

00:02:10   and years and years.

00:02:11   So just kind of interesting to look at.

00:02:15   Next, I found an interesting site.

00:02:17   And this is probably the last one of my things about Lion

00:02:20   that I'll ever share.

00:02:22   But it's just kind of-- I found an interesting collection

00:02:25   to finally put together all the things I've talked about

00:02:27   and have covered a couple of earlier shows

00:02:29   about different settings and adjustments and things

00:02:31   that you can do to Lion to tweak it and bend it to your will.

00:02:35   And so this is just a nice little site

00:02:36   that I-- it's just a collection of-- let's see,

00:02:39   a collection of reasonable defaults for our Mac OS Lion.

00:02:43   And it's just sort of a GitHub page.

00:02:45   But it kind of just walks through a whole bunch

00:02:46   of different default rights that you can do.

00:02:49   And it kind of is just useful.

00:02:51   I found a couple in there that I wasn't particularly

00:02:53   familiar with.

00:02:55   Things like disabling disk image verification, for example,

00:02:57   is something.

00:02:59   For a lot of times, it's just constantly downloading

00:03:03   these giant DMGs with Xcode in them.

00:03:05   And then when it downloads, I run it, and it goes off,

00:03:08   and it then spends another minute after the download time

00:03:12   verifying it.

00:03:13   So it would be nice to kind of turn that off.

00:03:14   I don't think it's significant.

00:03:16   I have a very reliable internet connection over ethernet,

00:03:19   et cetera.

00:03:19   So I'm not too worried about that.

00:03:21   Those kinds of little hints and tips that are pretty cool to look at.

00:03:25   All right, next is just a kind of a fun little thing.

00:03:28   Hopefully you're familiar with the Put This On guys who did--

00:03:32   who just did this great little video series about being well dressed.

00:03:36   Or I guess they would call it dressing like a grown up.

00:03:39   They have a fun little post on their blog talking about men's style

00:03:42   and some things you should--

00:03:44   25 pieces of basic sartorial knowledge so you don't look dumb

00:03:48   is the name of the article.

00:03:50   This is obviously focused on men's style,

00:03:52   but I imagine the vast majority of my listeners are men.

00:03:56   Nothing against you ladies who are listening.

00:03:58   Hi, mom.

00:03:59   But this is the really interesting article,

00:04:04   just kind of talking through some really fun stuff.

00:04:08   Talking about the ways in which you should buy clothes,

00:04:11   how they should fit.

00:04:13   So there's some of the simple ones.

00:04:16   The bottom button in a suit is not

00:04:19   intended to be buttoned, neither is a vest.

00:04:23   Jacket pockets are intended to be open.

00:04:24   Use a pair of small scissors or a seam ripper to do this.

00:04:27   Belt or suspenders, never belt and suspenders,

00:04:30   lots of good little things to help you be well dressed,

00:04:34   which is something that I don't think software engineers are

00:04:36   especially well known for.

00:04:38   So probably worth a look-see.

00:04:43   And lastly, this is a kind of interesting three-part series

00:04:46   over on the Fiplab blog.

00:04:49   talking about their experience in the App Store.

00:04:51   And it's just kind of an interesting walk through.

00:04:53   I always love when people kind of open up the curtain

00:04:56   and you kind of see what's going on for how they got there

00:04:58   to where they are, kind of making a profitable business

00:05:02   out of being an iOS developer.

00:05:04   And it's just a really great little read, definitely worth

00:05:06   looking and checking out.

00:05:08   There's a few little things that you can probably see.

00:05:09   It'd be like, oh, it's probably worth trying to recreate,

00:05:13   trying to sort of do again.

00:05:15   But generally speaking, it's just kind of a fun read

00:05:18   to hear the story from a couple of guys out of college who

00:05:21   have an interesting idea and a little bit of time

00:05:25   and turn it into a successful business.

00:05:27   So I just definitely recommend checking that out

00:05:29   and giving it a read.

00:05:32   All right, that's it for links today.

00:05:33   And my general discussion topic today, this week,

00:05:38   broadly, has been rife with news about Windows 8 and Metro

00:05:44   and all of these types of things.

00:05:46   And if you're not familiar with it,

00:05:48   essentially Microsoft unveiled or released their developer

00:05:52   preview of Windows 8, which is their next thing.

00:05:56   It'll probably be available sometimes next year.

00:05:58   Which is kind of crazy that they're

00:06:00   sort of doing all this preview and stuff,

00:06:02   and it's still probably about a year away, or several months

00:06:05   at least.

00:06:07   But anyway, it's kind of an interesting thing.

00:06:10   They're doing a lot of pretty cool stuff there,

00:06:13   And they certainly have a very large install base.

00:06:17   But what I wanted to talk about here is, as a developer,

00:06:21   how I process that, what it's like for me when I think about,

00:06:25   OK, here's a whole new platform.

00:06:26   Here's a whole new set of tools.

00:06:28   Here's a whole new place for us to be exploring and developing.

00:06:34   And the thing that I find myself so struggled with

00:06:36   is the importance of specialization,

00:06:39   especially for small shops.

00:06:43   My shop is myself.

00:06:44   I'm the only engineer who works for me.

00:06:47   And so it's important that I'm able to do

00:06:51   the job I need to do in the time I have available.

00:06:54   And that's sometimes difficult, especially

00:06:56   if I start spreading myself in different directions.

00:06:59   Whether I'm working on Android is another example

00:07:02   of an area where it's like, oh, something that I could play

00:07:05   with.

00:07:06   And so in general, I've been trying

00:07:07   is just in Objective C, in Cocoa, iOS, Mac development,

00:07:12   those types of things.

00:07:12   And even iOS and Mac are very different.

00:07:15   And it's something that is hard to say.

00:07:17   I'm much more efficient and specialized in iOS,

00:07:20   and I can really crank out apps.

00:07:22   I can find bugs right away, those types of things.

00:07:24   Whereas on the Mac, it's a bit slower.

00:07:26   It's a bit more of effort because I haven't been

00:07:29   doing it for so many years.

00:07:32   And in general, I think that specialization is good,

00:07:35   provided that specialization is happening in an industry,

00:07:39   in an area where there's an expectation of long-term,

00:07:43   realistic, solid growth, both in terms of having--

00:07:49   sort of on the passive income side of that,

00:07:50   in terms of app development and those types of things

00:07:53   where you can make apps, put them in a store,

00:07:55   and expect to actually make good money from that, which

00:07:58   is an important part of it, I think, of being sustainable.

00:08:00   And then also that there's a very rich and developed

00:08:03   consulting market.

00:08:05   This is something that I kind of end up doing as I go back and forth between those two.

00:08:09   That I build apps, build apps, build apps, put them in the store.

00:08:13   And then hopefully, for not all of them, but some of them can then proceed to do well and

00:08:18   make me some money.

00:08:20   But then on the other side, I'm always trying to stay fresh in the consulting industry just

00:08:25   to allow myself to A, learn new skills.

00:08:29   Because the hardest part of being independent is that I'm not constantly being challenged

00:08:35   and sort of improving in the way that I would in a right traditional workplace, where I

00:08:41   would have coworkers who are better than me, people who are better at me than specific

00:08:46   things, and who are challenging and helping enhance my skill set.

00:08:51   And consulting is a great way to do that, especially on a good team where you can kind

00:08:55   of combine with some really smart people and learn a lot and sort of get just as much out

00:08:59   of it as you would serve as you're putting into it.

00:09:02   So your value that you're receiving isn't just financial.

00:09:06   Typically consulting is good money, but you don't doing consulting just for the money

00:09:10   is typically sort of a rough deal because the work's a little bit harder and it's a

00:09:15   one time thing.

00:09:17   You know, in the way that if I put a lot of effort into building an app and say that app

00:09:21   even if it's, you know, it doesn't do great, but it does something for the next two years

00:09:25   three years. That's a big benefit to me, whereas consulting is sometimes a bit rough, in that

00:09:34   you make a bunch of money, but then you have to keep doing it. It's this never-ending cycle.

00:09:40   All that to say, consulting is a great way to stay sharp. I think in the same kind of

00:09:45   way, to loop this background to specialization, I think it makes a lot of sense to focus on

00:09:52   in that area, if you have those two things,

00:09:54   if you have the App Store or some kind of ecosystem

00:09:56   where you can develop passive income gradually over time,

00:10:00   and there's a solid consulting base, that if you put out

00:10:04   your sign for hire, if you're able to sign a deal pretty

00:10:08   soon, you're in the right place.

00:10:10   If you're really having to beat the bushes

00:10:12   and try and find something, you're probably not.

00:10:16   And that's not to say that those are bad places for people.

00:10:20   But that's not, for me anyway, that

00:10:22   doesn't seem like that's a sustainable, wise place

00:10:25   for a developer to be doing their work.

00:10:27   So when I look at Windows 8, what I see is, OK,

00:10:30   it's important for me to be aware of it.

00:10:32   And I think that's a good thing, to kind of catch

00:10:35   that next big thing.

00:10:37   And you never know what that's going to be until it happens.

00:10:39   I mean, I think that the nature of technology

00:10:42   is that you never know what's the big hit

00:10:45   until the big hits happened.

00:10:47   And so you can't sort of be in front of all the waves.

00:10:50   If you could, you'd make a lot of money

00:10:52   and be very successful.

00:10:54   But mostly, I think what's important

00:10:56   is to just kind of keep dabbling in these things.

00:10:59   I have an app on Windows Phone.

00:11:00   I have an app on Android.

00:11:01   I have a few of these little things.

00:11:03   But all of those things are typically

00:11:05   very time boxed and very focused activities that I've done.

00:11:08   I've said, hey, I'm going to give it a week

00:11:11   to make a Windows Phone app.

00:11:13   Let's see what happens.

00:11:14   And I work, work, work, get it done, ship it,

00:11:17   and kind of move on.

00:11:19   And it's not a focus, but it's a skill set now that if I need,

00:11:22   you know, if for whatever reason, that becomes the thing

00:11:25   that I need to do, say, there's a consulting gig that comes up

00:11:28   and says, Hey, we really need some people who have some

00:11:30   experience on Windows Phone, I can be like, I'm not a pro at

00:11:33   it, but I've done it. I've, you know, I've had some experience

00:11:36   with it. And then, you know, that's a valuable skill to have.

00:11:39   But you definitely what you don't want to do is kind of end

00:11:41   up bifurcating your attention and start going crazy, where

00:11:46   you're being pulled in 10 different directions. And that's

00:11:48   definitely not good. It's, you know, it's like, I'm on the, I'm

00:11:51   on the the Apple bus, I'm on that Apple bus going to

00:11:54   Cupertino. Every now and then I take these little detours, you

00:11:59   know, but I'm still on that bus. iOS and Mac is where I make my

00:12:03   living. And that's how I do it. But that's kind of the way that

00:12:06   I think about all these new platforms, things that come out.

00:12:09   You know, I'll stay up stay aware of it. I'll probably

00:12:12   write a Windows 8 app, you know, why not? It's, you know, sort of

00:12:15   fun thing to do. But I'm not, I don't see anything there that

00:12:19   would pull me away from from where I am now. And so that's

00:12:23   kind of how it is. All right, hopefully that's a little bit

00:12:26   too, not too much rambling. It's a little bit rambly, but

00:12:29   hopefully it's kind of helpful. Then just kind of walk through

00:12:31   kind of how I think about something like that. And when we

00:12:34   know when a new whole big platform comes out, and we go

00:12:36   with Microsoft saying all these big claims, oh, we have the most

00:12:39   customers, we're gonna have the biggest App Store ever. It's

00:12:42   It's like, maybe?

00:12:44   And if you do, great.

00:12:45   Maybe I'll be there.

00:12:47   If that happens, we'll know pretty quick.

00:12:50   And it shouldn't be too hard to catch or jump onto that.

00:12:54   So anyway, that's it for today's show.

00:12:57   Hope you enjoyed it.

00:12:59   As always, if you have comments, thoughts,

00:13:00   you can hit me up on Twitter.

00:13:02   I'm @_davidsmith.

00:13:03   Otherwise, you can hit the contact form of the website,

00:13:07   developingperspective.com/contact.

00:13:10   And otherwise, have a good weekend.

00:13:11   Happy coding, and I'll talk to you later.

00:13:13   Bye.

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