Watch WWDC for Technology Futures

Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference is this morning, and so I’m annoyed by all the people who are wrong on the internet. 😉

The mainstream press, and even some of the tech press (and certainly the financial press) never seem to know what to think of the news from WWDC. The tendency is to think of it as a product announcement event, even though product announcements at WWDC happen only occasionally.

WWDC is the richest look at Apple’s long-term plans that we ever see. As much as individual new products are picked apart and analyzed, the best information about Apple’s plans and the general direction of their technologies and products comes at WWDC.

This is a show for Developers. Most Developers are chomping at the bit to find out what new features and systems will be in this year’s new software, including Apple’s major operating systems (iOS, MacOS, et. al.), and languages and tools (Swift, Xcode, SwiftUI, ARKit, et. al.). Developers want to start building!

But many of us also watch closely for directional signals on what’s coming in the future. For example, Apple’s Memoji are cute animated avatars that you can design and decorate. They are cute and fun, but many people thought them silly and even useless. But developers saw the directional signal: Apple’s deep integration commitment for Augmented Reality. Apple’s commitment to privacy has been on display year after year at WWDC. And although we couldn’t really know it for sure at the time, Apple’s Metal framework for graphics presaged the move to Apple Silicon.

Apple’s just wrapping up the transition to using its own processors, Arm-based Apple Silicon, across all products. The last major product family to get Apple Silicon, Mac Pro, will be coming out soon – possibly being announced at WWDC today.

Both SwiftUI and ARKit are high on my list for expected improvements. They have both been developing in some interesting ways the last couple years and are also both “unfinished” in ways that are both frustrating and intriguing.

The pace is sometimes frustrating. Holes in capabilities (and bugs!) can be maddening. But it’s still remarkable the progress made over a few years.

Hacking with Swift – a great learning resource

I’ve been following Paul Hudson’s work for a few years now, and I’m also a very happy subscriber to his Hacking with Swift+ program. Paul provides great learning resources, many of them for free. If you want to get started learning Swift (and SwiftUI), I recommend 100 Days of SwiftUI, his free learning program. He also has a UIKit version, at 100 Days of Swift.

But right now, around WWDC2022, he’s also running specials on his books and bundles, for 50% off.

https://www.hackingwithswift.com/offers

I have enjoyed and learned a lot from his books, and own all of his bundles. It’s amazing how he keeps updating the various books. I really don’t know how he does it all. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to meet him and thank him personally at (or around) WWDC this year.

Learning Swift andSwiftUI

This is a great time to get started learning Swift and SwiftUI. The language and tools have matured to a very usable state, and there are some excellent learning resources out there.

I’ve been learning Swift and SwiftUI for a bit now and I’m getting fairly proficient. During this journey I’ve taken several online courses and bought quite a few books. Most of these were very well done and I’m glad to have supported their creators in some small way. But a few really stand out.

Big bonus for the 2021 Holiday season, these folks are all having Black Friday or Holiday sales. See each site for details.

Hacking with Swift is a website by Paul Hudson that teaches Swift and SwiftUI. His free course 100 Days of SwiftUI is excellent. If you like his style (and his dogs!), he also has some paid options that are very much worth the money – several books and an excellent online membership called Hacking with Swift+ (https://www.hackingwithswift.com/plus) Paul keeps creating new lessons and updating old ones and I subscribe so that I can have access to all of it. (Plus I like supporting Paul’s fine work!)

The books that have really made a difference for my deeper understanding of Swift and SwiftUI are all written by Daniel Steinberg at Dim Sum Thinking (https://dimsumthinking.com). I first met Daniel some years ago at a technical conference where he gave a short talk. I was immediately impressed with his teaching style and the way he brings to life the underlying structure and logic of the programming language and related libraries and tools. His books and lectures go beyond simple “how-to” to teach how things work and why. You can find his brilliant books, including a full bundle of them, and his videos and other work at https://editorscut.com, and he sells his books as eBooks at Gumroadhttps://editorscut.gumroad.com

If you are coming from a Design Background, or if you are like me and are very much NOT a designer, then you’ll get a lot of value from the courses at Design+Code – https://designcode.io. Meng and Stephanie are great instructors! Their courses are first-rate, and you can get started for free. I especially love the visual, hands-on teaching method. Also, if you join there are design tools and other extras.

There are so many other wonderful books and courses out there, you can simply poke around and find something to your liking. I feel guilty not listing all those that I know. But the most important thing is to start. Pick a course, free or paid, and get rolling. Try to do a little every day and you’ll make quick progress. And don’t forget to have fun!

You should wait to install MacOS Catalina

 

There is a lot of really great stuff in Apple’s new macOS release, Catalina (macOS 10.15).

But there is also a lot changed that can cause problems.

I strongly recommend you wait until the first major update (likely macOS 10.15.1) before upgrading to macOS Catalina.

If you do decide to upgrade to Catalina, be sure to take all the usual extra precautions, especially to make a full image backup of your main boot drive. Right now, my recommendation is Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) which has a new version available that works with Catalina. (SuperDuper, my other long-time favorite, has not yet (as of this writing on October 8th, 2019) released a version that works with Catalina.) 

The makers of CCC have written a great blog post, which also explains a bit about what is changed in Catalina that makes it complicated to support and why having a fully bootable backup is essential for safety. (tl;dr – it’s the only way to go BACK to Mojave.)

https://bombich.com/blog/2019/10/07/cloning-catalina-carbon-copy-cloner

I always recommend maintaining a fully bootable backup that’s updated on a regular basis, but before this Catalina upgrade, it really is absolutely essential. 

 

For a full review of macOS Catalina, check out MacStories: 

https://www.macstories.net/news/macos-catalina-the-macstories-review/

Advice on Computer and Software Upgrades

Keeping your computer software up-to-date is important for security, and also gets you the latest great features. Computer hardware is better than ever, which also means that a computer stays useful longer than ever and is more reliable because of better chassis, connectors and electronics, and fewer moving parts.

Software

Whether you are using macOS (previously Mac OS X), Windows, or Linux, keeping your computer up-to-date gives you the latest security updates and helps keep your computer reliable and fast. We can quibble over preferences and the track records of software vendors, but keeping your software updated is always the best choice.

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Email Apps

I’ve been using email for over 35 years (no typo) and I’m still surprised by the clever new ideas I see in the best email apps. Email apps can add an email to a reading list, or turn it into an item in your to-do list, or add an event to your calendar. Many have features for smart sorting of your email and to “snooze” an email for later. Many are beautiful and thoughtfully designed with gestures for touch-screen devices.

But what’s best for me is not necessarily what’s best for you. Below I run through some basics about email and make some recommendations for good apps to try.

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Fight to Make Your Product Great

In the mid-80’s I took my second tech job, at a company called Silicon Graphics, Inc.

SGI, before it officially contracted its name to “SGI”, was a fantastic place to grow and learn. It was intense and focused, and my modest technical know-how in Unix, TCP/IP Networking, and Computer Hardware matched well as the company grew its Unix workstation business and more customers connected computers to Internet Protocol networks. I was soon a main contact point for the most intractable problems from customers, and the Customer Support representative to new product introductions.

The focus and intensity made for arguments, some that probably would seem to outsiders as knock-down, drag-out fights.  But a friend from those days put it well when he said, “We fight with each other, but we fight to make a great product.”

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