How To Make A Fountain Pen

I’m hooked–hooked on fountain pens. A few months ago I saw a tweet by Neil Gaiman @neilhimself about how he uses a fountain pen. That was intriguing because I remember having one decades ago so I bought one. Now I’m hooked. I won’t go into the writing aspects. But I’m on the hunt for a tiny / keychain-worthy fountain pen.

All of the fountain pens I’ve seen are too large, or too long. I thought about it, and decided I might be able to make one. Now, going in, let me say that I am NOT a crafty/artsy/handy person. I can’t draw stick figures. But, I thought I might be able to come up with a proof of concept to see if a tiny fountain pen was even usable.

A few days ago the idea of polymer clay hit. If you’re not familiar with polymer clay, it’s a clay that modelers use and it hardens when baked. Last evening, I went down and got some at the local craft shop for a few dollars. It comes in various packages and colors. I chose white.

There were two potential issues: threading it, and leakage. I wanted to make an eyedropper style pen, since the shortest ink cartridges were too long. The main proof of concept was therefore for the body of the pen.

I took a small portion of clay and rolled it around part of an ink cartridge to form the ink chamber and barrel. I originally thought I would have to lubricate the cartridge with some oil to help release it from the clay, but it turns out none is needed, the clay just slides off the plastic. I then sealed the bottom of my barrel.

Next, the issue of threads. I decided to sacrifice a cheap fountain pen (Daiso) for the cause. I took the grip section of the pen and literally screwed it into the opening that was formed in the clay by the cartridge. I then carefully unscrewed it back out. That formed the proper threads in the clay. Here is a photo.

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It’s not a pretty barrel, but you can clearly see the threads. I still didn’t know whether baking the clay would cause them to shrink or expand.

I then baked my pen barrel per directions and let it cool. A quick test with the grip section of my fountain pen confirmed the threads work and I was able to screw the barrel on with a tight fit.

Next, I wanted to see how the baked clay stood up to sanding. I took my Dremel and did a quick shaping with a sanding wheel. The barrel looked a little nicer. It’s not perfectly shaped, I didn’t take my time and I don’t have a lathe which would be great. The baked polymer takes even coarse sanding well, and I could have made it nicer, and buffed and put a gloss finish on it, but this was just a proof of concept. Here it is with a rough sanding and shaping.

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Here is a photo of the barrel with the fountain pen grip screwed in. You can see my sanded barrel is nonsymmetrical.

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Here is a photo comparing my barrel’s length to a cheap Daiso fountain pen (2 for $10) and my Pilot Vanishing Point (http://gouletpens.com).

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Here is the overall length.

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Here is the length of my barrel, compared to a short international cartridge. In retrospect, I could have made my barrel half as long as it is.

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Next, I had to see if the threads leak. One concern I now had was, did the baked clay absorb ink. To forestall that possibility, I sprayed the inside of my barrel with some white rubber seal I had from the home supply store, and let it dry. I then filled my barrel with water with a few drops of ink, screwed on the grip and put it on a paper towel for a few hours.

Success! Even without a rubber gasket or greasing the threads, the barrel does not leak. (I’d still use grease and a gasket). And the pen does write, although I’d have been surprised if it hadn’t. Surprisingly, the pen is comfortable given its short length. The end of the barrel rests at the bottom of my index finger.

I didn’t make a cap, but here is my “pen” next to the Daiso cap, which you can see is longer than it needs to be. If I were to make the top, the pen as is would be about 3″ / 7.5cm long. The nib and grip take up 4cm and I’m sure I could probably get a shorter version.

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One question you may have is how much ink does it hold? Measuring the capacity with an ink syringe, my barrel holds about 0.6ml. Not bad. I could get more by adding a bit more ink to the barrel after the ink had flowed into the nib.

What’s next? I’m not sure. I don’t think I have the artistic skill needed to create pens. I just wanted to see if it was possible to create a usable tiny fountain pen. I’d love to have one. Start a business if you want. If you do, or do start making these, let me have one.

Conclusion: It’s possible to make a usable fountain pen using polymer clay for the body and cap, and have a fountain pen that rides along on your keychain.

Enblue Apple Watch Stand Review

I have an Apple Watch. I needed something better to charge it than just the provided mag charger on a string that Apple provides. After looking around a bit I found a Kickstarter, Enblue http://enbluetec.com .

I ordered the Premium W3 http://enbluetec.com/premiumonew3/ which is a charging station for not only the Apple Watch, but the iPhone and iPad as well.  Today, I just got the box and set it up.

The box came with the stand and no real instructions.  This is what is included:

 

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This is the main stand with room and connectors for all three devices.  Nice brushed aluminum, and rubber-padded connectors.  The stand has a pre-wired Lightning to USB connector for the iPhone and iPad.  The Lightning connectors are on a “floating” bar that lets your device adjust nicely.  The USB ends are labelled with a red and green dot. I haven’t figured out which goes to which device.  I don’t think it’s important.

You use and provide the Apple Watch MagSafe™ charger for the Apple Watch.

The other main component that is included is a USB charger (to the right in the picture above) with 4 USB-3 sockets.  Between the two provided USB cables and the MagSafe’s cable this leaves one empty USB socket free. Nice!

The one thing that confused me “out of the box” is that there was a rattling noise from inside the stand–as if there were loose parts.  Sure enough with enough shaking I retrived 4 small screws and two tiny cross-panels.  I think these were supposed to be in the two small plastic bags (empty) that you can see in the picture.

Setup is straight forward–mostly.  It wan’t obvious how the Apple Watch cord was to be routed. It was obvious the MagSafe went into the provided plastic grommet.  This has a notch, and I guessed the cord went there.  But neither the USB nor the MagSafe connectors fit in the slot in the stand.  The arm that holds the Apple Watch looked like it had a panel but there was no obvious way to remove it.  I decided to gamble and potentially mar or damage the stand and used a screwdriver to pry the panel off.

Success! It turns out it is magnetically attached for the most part.  With the panel open, it was a simple process of snaking the USB connector of the Apple Watch charger through the stand and aligning the cord with the notch in the grommet.  Here is a picture of the open panel and cord.

 

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The magnetic latch is on the bottom of the arm in this picture. You can also see the extra parts in this picture.

Once I reseated the panel back into the arm, I wondered what to do with the extra screws and cross panels.  The only place that made sense was securing one of the cross panels on the bottom.

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I tried once but lost a screw inside the stand (which I had to shake out again).  It wasn’t worth the effort and I didn’t see the panel really securing anything anyway. So I just left that bit off. It would have made more sense to have the cross panel across the wire channel.

Now all that was left was plugging all of the USB connectors into the power supply.  Here is the finished product.

 

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This is a really nice charging solution.  It is a bit pricey but it is solid aluminum.  The only way to improve this would be to have an option that worked as a MacBook docking station.  Or to include a simple instruction sheet.

 

 

 

Response to “A Call for Change In HP NonStop”

This is in response to: “A Call for Change in HP NonStop” – Randall Becker 

Agreed.

The following are my own opinions, and not a blanket statement. Also note, I am not affiliated with Hewlett Packard Company.

I worked at Tandem/Compaq/HP for about 30 years. The acquisition by Compaq and management switching to DEC was probably the start of the slide. Tandem was open. Compaq/DEC was more the IBM model in terms of management. There was a distinct shift in morale after the Compaq acquisition. Not because Tandem was acquired, but because employees were unable to do and work the way they had. I’m not saying HP should go back to the Tandem model.

The pool of intelligent, industrious, and creative people involved in HP NonStop is great (although shrinking due to age, downsizing, and morale). A lot of times their ability to perform at their best is limited by various issues. I won’t go into details, since I don’t want this to be a rant.

Employees (of all sorts, not just devs), need the ability to contribute. In most cases this amounts to doing what you have been asked to do at HP. The ability perform and contribute beyond what is asked of you is limited and at times discouraged (actively or passively). The justification amounts to one of a handful of arguments. The main ones are:

  • “We don’t do it that way/we have always done it that way.” [But no one can or will say why.]
  • “There is no demand, and we can’t work without funding/budgets.” [This even applies to volunteering.]
  • “Upper management decided we should…” [But when you ask who specifically, names can’t/won’t be named.]

The problem comes down to inertia and the inability or unwillingness to break from it. Jobs are at stake after all–mostly the lower management that fears the next “downsizing”.

Here are some suggestions: [yes I’ve told this to various managers at Compaq/HP through the years]

  • Allow, encourage, review, and reward suggestions for improvements in process and product. Review should not be done by the single manager you report to.
  • Allow for volunteer projects on employees’ free/down-time. Yes this does exist, and there are people who would love this. Only review when complete, don’t try to manage these or treat them as official.
  • Improve/upgrade tools, or allow employess to use their own as long as they are compatible and secure. Some of the in-house tools are archaic, but they are “approved”. There is nothing as frustrating to a developer who can’t use their favorite [therefore, most productive] code editor.
  • Decisions which have no impact on the end result, but affect the employee should be left to the employee, not become a management decision.
  • Improve morale.
  • Remote teams need to meet physically at the same location at least once a year.
  • Allow employees to take outside training (not just HP cross-chargeable training) and go to conferences. Pay for it.

Going back to the early days of Tandem and all the way through HP NonStop, the company has always been 3-5 years behind the development technology curve. Some at HP disagree with this statement.

Tech companies should lead, and not always wait for adoption rates to drive demand. Java and web are still considered as “new tech” in sections of HP NonStop.  When you’re behind the curve, it is difficult to motivate developers in COBOL, TAL, and Java when everyone they know working elsewhere is doing  Ruby, Scala and Clojure.

This is a chicken and egg problem at HP NonStop.  No demand, no funding, no change or advancement of the developers and products.  The customers don’t see new tech and so are happy with what they get from HP and don’t demand. No demand, no funding, no pushing the boundaries.  This also applies to in-house training and conferences. No demand, no funding, you can’t take outside classes or go to conferences unless you pay for them out-of-pocket.

Management needs to set the vision, and direction. Employees need to have the freedom and ability to implement them and in some situations maybe improve or steer.  Management is the navigator. The employees are the drivers.  Each needs the other.

 

My Thoughts On The Apple Watch

It’s been a couple of weeks since I got the “developer lottery watch”.  Here are my thoughts in no real order.

1 – Blue is not my color

I had ordered a black band on the Sports Space Gray, but when Apple announced their developer lottery, I cancelled my original order. I’m quite please by the brushed aluminum. It’s not as high-tech looking as the space gray, but it’s not as tacky looking as I had originally feared.

The problem is the sports band. The band itself is wonderfully comfortable. It’s the blue. The lottery didn’t give us a choice of band color. Blue for all! The color itself is nice, but it’s not for me. For some reason, it makes me think of a hospital wrist band, just more comfortable and thicker. I want the black band, or even the white one.

2 – Reverse band mechanics

I had a minor problem with how the sports band attaches. It seems backwards to all the other bands I’ve had. Normally the loop of a watch/fit band is used to help keep the watch in place as you fasten it. With the Sports Band, you have to use an extra finger to hold the band and watch in place and then attach it and finally pass the tongue of the band through the loop. Once I figured out how to do this efficiently I was ok, but it’s not initially intuitive.

3 – Taptics Are Great

I’ve read a few reviews where people were complaining about the constant and annoying taptics. Obviously, they just put the watch on and let it default everything. The first thing I did was go into the iPhone app and customize all my notifications, glances, and taptics. I didn’t spend time overthinking things but just turned on the items I thought would be useful. Now I get an occasional tap, and when I get one I know it’s important.

Taps are definitely more personal and not as intrusive as the phone ringing or vibrating. They are easy to ignore. On the other hand, to me, when I get a taptic tap, it has the same emotional response as someone tapping me on the shoulder.  It’s immediate. It’s personal. It’s not a remote sound. There is no sound. It’s just a gentle tap. Someone wants my attention. It’s great!

4 – Less time with the iPhone

Glances are underrated. Yes if you load up your watch with all the possible apps that support glances, you’ll be overwhelmed. I only have glances I know i want to look at often. My approach was: What do i spend most of my time with on the iPhone?  Those are the glances I loaded. This simple approach has kept my phone in my pocket more. I’m not pulling it out to check on something. Now I look at my watch and I’m done. I only wish the watch had a way to extend the time the screen stays on by a second or two. I’m sure the timer is a way of preserving battery life.

5 – The watch makes you more focused

An unexpected benefit of having the Apple Watch is that I seem to be more focused. The screen real estate isn’t swamped with widgets and “designer UI”. The screen has barely enough information to be useful. This is a good thing. You’re forced to focus on one or two pieces of information at a time. On the iphone, you’re easily distracted by non-essential information, other apps, the dock/home bar, etc.

Seeing one thing lets you focus on it and deal with it without distraction. This is great!

6 – I  don’t use the crown much

The scrolling crown is cool, but I don’t use it much to scroll. Finger scrolling works fine for me, despite having normal sized fingers. Yes my finger may obscure the screen a bit, but I’m more interested in what I see after I scroll than while scrolling. So I don’t use the scrolling feature of the crown very often. I mostly use the crown press.

7 – Force touch needs to be everywhere

I like force touch and the taptic feedback. The problem initially (and with new apps), is that there is no way to know whether an app supports force touch. This led me trying to over-force a force touch on apps that didn’t have it. Force touch needs to provide taptic feedback on every screen, not just those that support it. If you force touch an app that has no force touch functions, you would get a tap, as an acknowledgement but nothing would change.

8 – Response seems sluggish at times with 3rd party apps

This is Apple Watch OS (?) 1.0. It’s bound to have issues. It’s surprising it is as stable as it is. Occasionally though, I have run into a situation (3rd party apps) where hitting the “Dismiss” on a notification clears the screen, but the notification isn’t cleared. Tapping again a couple of times resolves the issue. My gut feel this is a problem with the 3rd party app code or how they are using Bluetooth. Apple built-in apps seem fine.

9 – Health

I’m surprised by how much I like the health aspects of the watch. The reminder to stand up may be annoying to some, but it’s great for me when I’m in my “zone”. The built-in exercise app has enough exercise options to keep anyone from a slug to a cheetah happy. It’s also gamified with badges and such to make it fun. There needs to be more of this. I’m finding I do exercise more than usual.

Two issues I’m hoping Apple will address in upcoming updates. The watch doesn’t track sleep, or water consumption. The first is a battery recharge issue, the second is easy.

10 – Battery and screen are fine

There was initial concern about the battery life and screen scratches. I’m finding with moderate to some heavy use throughout the day I get about 18 hours and even then the battery isn’t drained. I haven’t had issues with the screen despite an occasional bump against something. Most of the issues I’ve seen online are chips not scratches.  The screen is scratch-resistant, it’s not puncture or chip resistant.

11 – Needs more cowbell—err, watch faces

Not all of the included watch faces are as fully customizable as others. There aren’t as many diverse ones as I’d hoped. You basically get the ones that Apple demoed. I have a feeling this is just the beginning.

12 – Siri rocks

I rarely used Siri on the iPhone or iPad. Siri on the watch is its sweet spot. It’s easier than tapping and is a good interface for scheduling and other things. Siri on the watch is silent, however. I’m hoping the future will provide an option to get her voice back.

13 – Um…camera viewfinder app?

This one has me scratching my head. Why would I want to use my watch as the viewfinder for the camera on the iPhone?  Your iPhone is in your pocket.  This opens up security/privacy issues as well.

14 – Calendar app annoyances

The built-in calendar app has a few minor annoyances. There apparently is no way to switch months, it’s fixed on the current month. Also, there is no way to include all-day events in the calendar’s glance. The only items that show up are events with discrete scheduled times.

15 – No watches, no bands

It’s been a while now since the Apple Watch was available for pre-order. It is still only available for pre-order. You cannot go into an Apple store and purchase either a watch or a band. I can understand the watches may be built to order, or pulled. But the Sport bands, at least are probably cheap to manufacture. They should be available by now.

So, after a couple of weeks, I’m pleased with the Apple Watch. Is it perfect? Far from it, but then again, neither was the first iPhone or iPad. It is, however, a high-quality item worthy of Apple, and one I’m glad I got.

Why HP NonStop Servers Should Embrace Reactive

THIS IS MY OPINION ONLY

If you’ve worked with reactive, you probably have never heard of HP NonStop servers, and conversely if you’re working on HP NonStop servers, you’ve probably never heard or “reactive”.

First, for anyone not familiar with HP NonStop servers, a little explanation.  HP NonStop servers were originally known as systems built by Tandem Computers back in the 70s.  You probably have never heard of either.  HP NonStop servers are a mainframe-grade server that has typically had a very niche market.  The servers are a fully fault-tolerant (not failover, not hot-standby) “never-go-down” systems.   They are used by many stock markets, ATM networks, 911 call centers, and pretty much any business critical environment where losing data causes loss of money or life.

The point of this post deals with another aspect of HP NonStop servers.  They are reactive and have been so since the 70s.  The weird part is that HP NonStop servers don’t realize or acknowledge it.  So what do I mean by “reactive”?

Reactive is the new hotness in IT. Back in 2014 a group individuals introduced the “Reactive Manifesto” http://www.reactivemanifesto.org to the world. In a nutshell, the Reactive Manifesto lays out a way to design, architect, and build software. Many large companies are adopting this approach. Programming languages and frameworks are arising and or are being modified to adapt to this way of doing things, Java, Scala, Akka, etc are just a few.

So what does it mean to be reactive?  Per the manifesto, a reactive system is: responsive, resilient, elastic, message-driven.  That last point should make your ears perk up if you are familiar with HP NonStop servers.  HP NonStop servers have been message-driven at the application and OS levels since day one.  What about the other points?

Responsive

“Responsive systems focus on providing rapid and consistent response …”  One of the primary goals of HP NonStop servers is to meet business-critical response time SLAs, in a mixed workload environment. If you’re not familiar with this term, it is the HP NonStop server’s ability to run OLTP, batch, DSS, and Data Warehousing on the same machine, in production, at the same time.  In fact, there is no technical reason to have a batch window on the machine. HP NonStop servers are responsive.

Resilient

“The system stays responsive in the face of failure.”  HP NonStop systems are truly fault-tolerant (more than fault-resilient).

Elastic

Systems can react to changes in the input rate by increasing or decreasing the resources allocated to service these inputs”   HP NonStop servers have the ability to adjust to loads by spawning and killing off processes in order to handle the load for a given business task.  This is the HP NonStop server’s TS/MP (Transaction Services/Massively Parallel) environment.

Message-driven

Employing explicit message-passing enables load management, elasticity, and flow control by shaping and monitoring the message queues in the system and applying back-pressure when necessary.”   As I mentioned, HP NonStop servers are fully message-driven, including the OS itself.  What this implies is that the system is a shared-nothing environment.  There is no real shared memory or global space.

So where am I going with this. Simply put, HP NonStop servers are fully reactive and have been so since the 1970s.  However,  the platform has not embraced this approach in its tools or marketing.

HP NonStop can learn a lot from the reactive movement that is actively espousing it. In some ways it is also competing with HP NonStop.

Conversely, the reactive movement can learn a lot from how HP NonStop deals with reactive in a mainframe (as opposed to mini-server clusters).

HP NonStop programmers can and should learn a lot about how actors work and how to better implement asynchronous environments.

HP NonStop servers and the reactive model are made for each other.

On a personal note, “I have been doing reactive since the 1970s.”

“Code Review” – [sung to “Hotel California” – apologies to The Eagles]

On a bright sunny morning, I walked up the stair
Warm smell of nachos, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the lunchroom, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew dizzy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for a bite
My manager stood in the doorway;
I heard her menacing growl
And I was thinking to myself,
“Oh oh this isn’t good, yes I’ll probably get Hell”
Her face lit up with a sneer, as she shoved me aside
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say…

Welcome to today’s Stand Up
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such an awful stack trace
Plenty of room at today’s Stand Up
Any time of day (Any time of day)
You can find it here

My mind is dazed-twisting, I got the mental bends
She got a lot of sticky sticky notes, notes she calls trends
How they stick to the whiteboard, bright paper squares.
Some code to remember, some code to forget

So I called up the source code,
“Please bring me my commit”
Siri said, “We haven’t had that project here since nineteen eighty nine”
And still those voices are calling from far behind me,
Wake me up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say…

Welcome to today’s Stand Up
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such an awful stack trace
They codin’ it up at today’s Stand Up
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
Bring your alibis

Breakpoints on the display,
The tests crash the device
And I grumble “I am just prisoner here, of my own device”
And in my manager’s office,
Their coffee spills from their mugs
They stab at my code with their steely eyes,
But they just can’t kill the bugs

Last thing I remember, I was
Shown out the door
I had to find new employment now
I would code no more
“Relax, ” said git hub,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never retrieve!

— @Archimage

Thoughts On Apple’s WWDC 2014 Keynote.

Apple is having its 2014 World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) if you haven’t heard. As the name implies this is an opportunity for Mac and iOS developers to get together and learn about what is new in the Apple ecosystem.

Over the past few years developers have felt (right or wrongly) that Apple was giving short-shrift to developer concerns, problems, and wishes. Not this year.

Wow!

So why should you, as a non-developer, care? Or for that matter if you’re a developer on another platform care what Apple developers do? The reason is pretty obvious: at this point in time, what Apple does (and has been doing) affects pretty much everyone who uses technology, even if they don’t use an Apple product.

So what’s different this year? Apart from the WWDC Keynote pretty much everything is still under non-disclosure. Here’s what we do know (and can talk about).

No new hardware was announced, which isn’t surprising for a developer’s conference. What usually gets announced are the new versions of Mac OS and iOS and Apple didn’t disappoint. Apart from the usual “chrome” updates on the Mac, Apple introduced a few unexpected things.

Continuity

The major feature is what Apple calls “Continuity” which is the ability to seamlessly transition from an iOS device to your Mac and back. Say you’re working on a document on your iPad. If you get close to your Mac, your Mac detects your iPad and you can pick up working on your document on the Mac. This may not sound cool or useful, but seeing it is impressive. “It just works.” It’s the type of thing that makes you go, “why didn’t I think of that”, or “this is the way it’s supposed to work.”

Last year, Apple introduced their Multipeer Connectivity API along side their iBeacon technology. Both are “near-field”, meaning you have to be close to something to use it. iBeacons got all the “buzz” and press. I came out on Twitter a while back and stated iBeacons are cool, but the real power is in MPC. Apple’s new “Continuity” works more like MPC than an iBeacon setup. I think “Continuity” is just the first card in Apple showing us what MPC can really do. iBeacons are good in stores and factories, MPC is useful everywhere else. That’s just my observation.

“Continuity” was demoed with a focus on Macs, but switch your perspective. Continuity works just as transparently with iOS devices. It can also be made to work with other platforms. It requires no specialized hardware short of wifi or Bluetooth®. Expect to see lots of CAD (Context Aware Devices).

HealthKit / Health

Next, Apple didn’t announce the rumored iWatch, or Apple TV. What they did announce was a developer environment for managing your health, known as HealthKit and an app simply called Health. The app has similarities to Passbook, but will be more successful. Apple has done it’s homework. Instead of creating its own hardware Apple has provided an integration layer to allow vendors such as Nike and others to integrate their hardware and biometric data into a single (data) view. Genius. Now all the gizmos you may have can coalesce their data into a central repository.

Apple has also worked with health organizations to allow HealthKit to call out to doctors and hospitals if it detects your biometric data indicates you have a problem. Expect to see an uptick in consumer medical “widgets”.

HomeKit

Apple also threw its ring into the Internet of Things (IoT) when they announced HomeKit, which takes the HealthKit approach of providing an integration layer to all the home automation IoT devices that are coming on line. Apple says it’s providing a software hub with a standard protocol to allow the various devices to interact. IoT isn’t all that interesting if you can talk to a device and the device can talk to you; it becomes powerful when a device can control another device.

CloudKit / CloudDrive

Apple has been struggling with their iCloud environment, both from a user and developer perspective. iCloud sync was crippling to develop and worked sporadically if you got it right as a developer. Apple has shifted focus a bit (and I believe for the better) by sidestepping the syncing issues by allow a more “Drop box” approach. Now, users can see iCloud as a virtual drive on the desktop and iOS devices. A user can move whatever files and folders they want onto the CloudDrive and have it synced across devices. A lot simpler, a lot more fool proof than integrating background synching in an app via iCloud. iCloud synching is still there as well.

The other aspect of this technology is Apple is positioning this to developers as a back-end cloud platform. Apple has abstracted the server-side code and now developers can create Mac and iOS apps that have a back end server environment, essentially with no work on the back end. Apple hasn’t done so in this WWDC, but expect Apple to allow developers to be able to leverage this to create web front ends in addition to app clients.

Various Other Announcements

There were a lot of other announcements, that are mostly of interest to developers. Mac and iOS “widgets”, Inter-app functionality exports, etc.

One Last Thing

The one announcement that stunned everyone was Apple’s announcement of a new programming language.????!!! Objective-C was the language of choice for Mac and iOS developers.

I spent the night reading the Swift manual that Apple released. It’s an interesting mix of Ruby/Javascript/Go and a few other languages. It includes object-based, reactive, and functional elements.

So why a new language? Apple claims its more modern and designed to get the “C” language cruft out of developing in order to be able to code faster, and with the ability to avoid and detect problems in code. They also claim it executes faster than Objective-C.

The demo Apple gave shows a more interactive environment (think interpreted languages or languages with a REPL). Swift however appears to use a compile-REPL rather than being interpreted. The immediate feedback when coding is great and the code looks a bit “cleaner”.

One thing that Apple didn’t address, is that Swift is a lot easier to learn than Objective-C. I believe Apple wants to dip into the pool of Ruby / Javascript / Go programmers, and more importantly, they are going to get a lot of first-time developers drawn to the ecosystem.

Secondarily, I believe Apple is working on something that every developer has wanted since the original iPhone came out. On-board development. Swift is the perfect language to have if you’re going to be programming on the iPad or iPhone itself. The syntax is easily parsed and can actually be interpreted on a device without having a full compiler. This is the man behind the curtain of Swift.

Tie Swift on a device with Continuity, and you have something every developer wants yesterday.

Conclusion

Apple has had great announcements before. This year is up there as the best or if not the best, up at the top. The main takeaway I got was “ecosystem”. Whether you’re an Apple hater or lover, you’re going to be affected.

#technology # thoughts # iOS

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