Growing your brand

AppCubby: "How do I grow App Cubby in a way that increases value AND income? That's a question I've been asking myself since the day the company was founded. These past few months, I've been working on a solution I think makes a lot of sense. I've signed an exclusive sponsorship deal with Honeywell to advertise its consumer auto brands - FRAM, Prestone, and Autolite - in a rebranded version of Gas Cubby called Gas Cubby by FRAM." - Very interesting, very, very, interesting, and smart to boot.

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Mark Pilgrim: "Now, I am aware that you will be able to develop your own programs for the iPad, the same way you can develop for the iPhone today. Anyone can develop! All you need is a Mac, XCode, an iPhone 'simulator,' and $99 for an auto-expiring developer certificate. The 'developer certificate' is really a cryptographic key that (temporarily) allows you (slightly) elevated access to... your own computer. And that's fine - or at least workable - for the developers of today, because they already know that they're developers. But the developers of tomorrow don't know it yet. And without the freedom to tinker, some of them never will." - CAUTION: Mark's pretty free with the F-bomb, but the article is worth a read. The thing that really caught my eye, and my full attention, was one of Marks own comments in the comments section, it reads...

People haven't figured it out yet, but Mac OS X is on its last legs. By 2015, Apple will make appliances and developer add-ons. Not general purpose computing devices.

WOW, WHAT A BOLD STATEMENT! He might be right.

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Uses for a tablet

Scobleizer: "Tablets make a HUGE amount of sense in healthcare. Remember Epocrates, the iPhone app that Steve Jobs' own health team helped influence? Now imagine they came out on stage and showed off their new version which has much better integration with your entire health chart." - My brother has been touting tablets and handhelds for use if healthcare for YEARS. I think Jay (that's what the family calls him) is in the wrong field. At heart he's a Software Engineer, or at least a Program Manager. He has great ideas with regards to solving problems in healthcare with technology, especially as it applies to the Pharmacist in a clinical setting. He really needs to get a job with someone like Apple, Google, or Microsoft. He has a lot to offer guys, and the healthcare market is still wide open. I'm sure his brain is spinning on uses for the iPad.

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Great iPhone SQLite tutorial

dBlog: "I see many people asking for SQLite tutorials around, and since I am using SQLite for the next part in the Advanced RSS Reader Tutorial, I thought I would write up a quick tutorial on using SQLite with the iPhone SDK." - Now, couple that tutorial with Gus Muller's FMDB and you're off and running.

Thanks guys!

And yes, I am aware of Core Data. I even have Marcus Zarra's Core Data book, just need time to dig into it. I'll definitely be using that down the road some time.

Yes, there's a Mac application in my future, I can smell it.

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Cringely on 2010

I, Cringely: "In 2010 you do so by entering new markets and turning on old friends, sometimes simultaneously. That's likely to be the case with the coming iSlate tablet, or whatever it will be called, which definitely won't be running exclusively on AT&T. You can see that from AT&T's sudden embrace of Android, which never would have happened if Steve Jobs hadn't first made a preemptive move of his own for the iSlate, probably to Verizon. The Apple/AT&T marriage is now one of convenience only." - I added the emphasis there at the end of the quote. How long will it be before we can buy an iPhone on other networks? Will it be available on all networks? It'll be interesting to see the sales numbers for iPhone when it does open up.

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12 Days of Christmas the Jackson Fish way

Jackson Fish Market: "With the holidays coming, we decided to put out a little end-of-year treat for everyone. As of today A Story Before Bed now features the Christmas classic The 12 Days of Christmas. Since we produced this book in our in-house publishing division it only made sense to feature the characters from our Hippo Hooray series - Honey the hippo and Raphael the robin. Once the book started coming together, the next logical step was to launch it for the iPhone as well. So now you can record a video of yourself reading The 12 Days of Christmas on A Story Before Bed just in time for Christmas, and you can purchase The 12 Days of Christmas iPhone app that features all the artwork from the book and a modern instrumental soundtrack to which you can sing-along. The words appear on the page synchronized to the music so you won't forget the lyrics." - Nice work.

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The debate rages on...

John Gruber: "If it's the iPhone's fault, not AT&T's, why aren't iPhone users around the world having the same problems as those here in the U.S.? How come iPhone carriers in Europe and Canada turned on tethering support as soon as iPhone OS 3.0 was released, and AT&T still, seven months later, has not?" - Good point.

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Steve says AT&T is naughty

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs: "And now here we are. Right here in your own backyard, an American company creates a brilliant phone, and that company hands it to you, and gives you an exclusive deal to carry it - and all you guys can do is complain about how much people want to use it. You, Randall Stephenson, and your lazy stupid company - you are the problem. You are what's wrong with this country." - WARNING! There's a bit of language in the article but it's definitely worth a read.

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Clearly I'm doing something wrong

Finger Gaming: "According to a report at VentureBeat, the six-member team at Backflip Games has earned more than $1.75 million from its iPhone apps in the company's first seven months of business. The team attributes its success to effective use of in-game advertising and cross-promotion." - I don't know what to say about that, other than, WOW!

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Apple to acquire LaLa?

Wired: "This Lala acquisition could also help iTunes increase its revenue-per-user. Steve Jobs admitted in 2007 that the average iTunes user had only bought an average of 22 songs. By contrast, Lala CEO Bill Nguyen told us in October that its paying customers spend an average of $67 on Lala music, which is available both as 10-cent streams and normally-priced downloads (buying a stream is a down payment on the download)."

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The shoe on the other foot

Dare Obasanjo [Hat Tip James Robertson]: "Am I the only one who thinks the above excerpt would be similarly apt if you replaced the phrase 'mobile apps' with 'Facebook apps' or 'OpenSocial apps'?" - Good point.

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Droid and photographers

Dave Winer [on Twitter]: "I can't leave the netbook. I'm taking a realtime photography trip. Without the netbook there's no realtime to it." - Depending on the type of storage your camera uses the Droid could be the perfect companion for Photographers. If you want to upload photos realtime, take your shots, pop your card out of camera, pop it in the Droid, and upload! No need to take your netbook with you for realtime support.

Now, all you need is someone like Fraser Speirs to create some super applications to get the job done.

This is another thing Apple should consider with the next version of the iPhone. Support for a microSD card would be quite nice.

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Smart Phone Platforms

Robert Scoble: "He says on Windows Mobile and other phones it's getting downloaded far less often than that. Westergren told me if he were starting development today he'd build for the above three platforms and is seeing more growth in Android than the others, so he'd bias to iPhone and Android, if he had to make a choice of only two platforms to develop on. This is also what I'm hearing from many other developers." - Yep. I love me some iPhone development, so much so I wish I could find a way to do it full time. Having said that, Android is looking more and more like a solid number two, with the Palm Pre coming in at number three in my book.

My brother, who co-developed RxCalc, is dug in at Verizon for mobile service, and he's looking at Droid for his next phone. Not a bad choice.

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Dear Palm Letter

Jamie Zawinski: "Believe it or not, this actually has nothing to do with my utterly nightmarish experience of trying to get my applications into Palm's app catalog, and everything to do with the fact that the phone is just a constant pain to use." - Later in his post he bottom lines it, "Because it's an appliance that just f@#$%* works."

'Nuff said.

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iPhone developer gets out

MacWorld: "Second Gear's FitnessTrack and Emergency Information iPhone apps are dead...long live BitBQ's FitnessTrack and Emergency Information! Yes, Second Gear developer Justin Williams has sold his two apps to BitBQ's Patrick Burleson." - I'll hang in there myself, with hopes the App Store will improve based on developer and user feedback. It'll get better, it has to.

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The Ramp Champ Story

The Ramp Champ Icon.Louie Mantia: "In December, we brainstormed ideas for what the different ramps should be and decided who would design them. We laid out plans for a bunch of ramps: a default ramp (which was transformed into Clown Town), the Icon Garden, Breakwater Bay, Space Swarm, Tiki Island, Ninja Attack, and Happy Place. Of course, I'd be lying if I said these didn't go through major revisions (and name changes) over the course of the design phases, but these were the final names based on the ideas we had in December." - The IconFactory is a class act, and I absolutely LOVE stories like this. It's fun to read about the history, and process, of any new product. Ramp Champ is an especially beautiful iPhone game, and I'd imagine one of the first to embrace In App Purchase.

If you want to have some fun the $1.99 price tag is worth the price of admission, especially if you love carnival games.

Get it on iTunes.

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On iPhone Flash Apps

Louis Gerbarg: "On my iPhone 3G it runs really choppy, on my 3GS it runs acceptably, but it still isn't smooth. Given the OpenGL performance people have seen on the 3GS that is still pretty bad. I have not done any invasive tests by instrumenting the binary, that is just what I can get via basic usage. The sad thing is that there is no reason it has to have performance like this." - I'm sure we'll see it get better, but, since it is OpenGl it's going to chew on battery. I wouldn't use this for real applications, but it could be a great choice for games. Especially those "one off" games for movie and product promotions.

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Ruby on the Mac

Mac RubyMacRuby: "The new MacRuby 0.5 runtime is built upon LLVM, a compiler infrastructure also sponsored by Apple. Thanks to LLVM, MacRuby is able to transform the Ruby abstract syntax tree (AST) from the parser directly into highly optimized machine code. MacRuby supports both Just in Time (JIT) and Ahead of Time (AOT) compilation. The JIT mode will compile down the code at runtime, and the AOT mode will allow you to save on disk the compilation result. AOT compilation makes MacRuby a true Ruby compiler." - Hmmm, how long until we have full support in XCode for building compiled Ruby? Then, that begs the question, how long before we see native compilation of Ruby for the iPhone?

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Love for XCode

Fiery Robot!: "I think the true turning point started at around Xcode 3.0. Xcode is now quite simply the best IDE I've ever used. Most all of my complaints have been solved over time, and admittedly I've figured out a few things along the way that made me finally get how it all works. I thought I'd point out a few of the things that made me realize that Xcode rocks. If you're an Xcode aficionado, I'm sure you'll already know these." - The XCode team proves time and again you can create an excellent IDE on top of a UNIX underpinning. Something the Linux guys still haven't quite figured out, mind you they're getting better, but they're still stuck in 1970.

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App Store Problems Continue

MacWorld: "But three dollars, right? I mean, with that much money I could buy a third of a movie ticket! I could take the subway one and a half times! I could pay the convenience charge on the parking ticket I got last night (thanks, City of Somerville)." - For $3 you can *ALMOST* buy a Venti drink from America's favorite coffee company. This debate over the Tweetie upgrade pricing is silly, but it does point to bigger problems. The App Store needs to be reworked a bit, we need a 2.0 release, or 3.0, whatever. The kinder, gentler, App Store needs to include a couple of new features.

1) Trial Versions - 30-days would be just fine for starters, yes, I said for starters.
2) Upgrade Pricing - I'm ok with the $3 upgrade, but what if he had the option to set upgrade pricing at, say, $0.99? Maybe he'd actually do it?

Of course others will have a different list of things, and I'm sure I'll be adding to this one in the future, but it seems like those two things could go a long way toward cleaning up some of the mess at the App Store.

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Developers cool towards iPhone

MacWorld [via @chockenberry]: "Even if your 99 cent application gets downloaded 10,000 times, after Apple's 30 percent cut that's just $7,000 in revenue-not profit, mind you, just revenue-and if you spent the last six months of your life working on that application, you better hope you're still working a day job if you want to cover living expenses." - I still believe there's a market for GREAT iPhone apps, but some may be cool on the idea. That's ok, I'll plod along, looking for a nice niche to settle into, but I can see some giving up all together. It can be discouraging to see your work go unused, or receive little return on your investment. Such is life. Find something you love and work at it. It may pay off, and if it doesn't you may find something positive to take from the experience. I know I have.

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Giving up on the iPhone?

Mike Ash: "What about my part? That part is pretty simple: I have abandoned the platform. Apple's nonsense is just too much for me. There's no joy in iPhone development, and an enormous amount of frustration. It's much more fun, not to mention profitable, to take whatever effort I would spend on iPhone development and spend it on Mac development instead." - While I'm not ready to abandon the platform I can certainly understand why Mike would abandon iPhone development. I myself like developing for the iPhone but would love to have the time to write a full fledged Mac application. I have many ideas, but they're much larger than the applications I can build for the iPhone/iPod Touch, thus, I keep working on the phone. Besides, it really is quite fun.

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Advantage MonoTouch?

MonoTouch: "We take Inteface Builder one step further than XCode does by making MonoTouch automatically bind any outlets you define on your interface and any methods that you define in your interface to your C# code." - Who'd have thunk Apple's own Interface Builder would be outdone by a bunch of hacks? Not me.

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The FREE App Store?

This morning was the morning! We had 1300+ downloads of RxCalc during our FREE blowout. I found that a bit encouraging. Let me explain. We were overpriced in the eyes of a $0.99 culture. GREAT! We fixed our pricing problem, we're now a $0.99 application. That should translate to an uptick in sales, right? Wrong.

Once again, I'm caught off guard. I'm not sure what I expected, but I didn't expect what greeted me this morning. At first I was encouraged, I saw some double digit download numbers for three countries, GREAT! Then I took a closer look. The price for the first two countries, Japan and Australia, was $0.00, huh? Well, the App Store may take up to 48 hours to update all their databases after a price change. Ahhhh, that explains it. The stores in other countries haven't been updated yet, ok, let's move on.

So, the next highest total was the good ole USofA! We had a grand total of... drumroll please...


So maybe my thought that the App Store was a $0.99 economy is completely wrong. Maybe it's a $0.99 economy for entertainment titles?

I like pictures, so here's a chart of our sales, given our best day at $5.99 (five units), yesterday at $0.99 (17 units worldwide), and our FREE day (1365 units worldwide).

RxCalc Sales

RxCalc will of course remain in the store, and we'll definitely drop a new version, hopefully soon, but these kinds of numbers could cause some to just give up, but writing iPhone Apps is a great hobby.

Back to the drawing board. Smile, life is good!

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The $0.99 App Store

Well, I'm shocked. Truly shocked.

RxCalc is squarely focused on Clinical Pharmacists, it's geeky, it does Pharmacokinetics. It's so focused on a certain thing only a subset of pharmacists can use it. We thought this market of highly trained professionals would be OK with a price tag of $5.99. We thought we had something unique to offer, something worth a little more, apparently the App Store has trained everyone to stay at the $0.99 level and below.

You may be asking "Why'd he say that?"

Ah, to the point.

We decided to do a one day "special" on Labor Day. For one day RxCalc would be FREE. We thought it would get us a few downloads. A few downloads is the understatement of the year.

Prior to yesterday here's how things went for RxCalc.

Best Sales Day Total: Five
Best Weekly Total: 17
Total Sales [July 4, 2009 - September 6, 2009]: ~100

We were OK with that. We figured we weren't reaching our target market, or maybe they didn't use iPhone's or iPod Touches. Again, we were wrong.

Here are the numbers for the one day FREE download.

Worldwide downloads September, 7, 2009: 1365
Unique Countries Represented: 41
Ranking: #12, FREE Medical Applications Category

I, for one, didn't expect that at all. I thought we'd see 100 downloads. Apparently we do have a market. Apparently Pharmacists, like everyone else, prefer their applications to be near free. Who'd of thunk it?

So, we've made some changes as a result of our little experiment. Instead of going back to $5.99 after the special our price will now be $0.99, and it will remain there as long as RxCalc is in the store.

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The Truth of a Vertical Market App in the App Store

I'm referring to my own experience as an Independent Apple iPhone Developer. Since RxCalc went into the store things have been slow for us, slow but steady. Please, don't take this as a complaint, I'm very proud of our little effort, and I feel that sense of pride when I talk to people about what my brother and I have done. It's our baby, even if it's not making us piles of cash, we're committed to supporting and nurturing it. It wont be left to whither on the vine. There's work to be done!

To date, by my calculations, we've sold 99 copies of RxCalc. Apple Core Labs has received our first check from Apple, it was a very exciting day! In fact, we're going to celebrate it. Yes, I believe in celebrating your victories, no matter how small.

Something I've come to realize about our chosen vertical market is it's very difficult to reach our target audience. It's very obvious Pharmacists aren't finding the RxCalc product page, or our weblog. After announcing that tomorrow (Labor Day) RxCalc would be completely free for one day I expected to not make a single sale, completely understandable, yet we sold a copy yesterday, yes, a single copy. So, it's very obvious our best vehicle thus far is the App Store itself. To that end I wonder if Apple would be open to adding a weblog like capability to the store so our announcements could be linked off the main product page, or brought to the surface a bit more easily, when potential customers land on the iTunes App Store page for RxCalc. Maybe a "News", or "Announcements", section on the page with a headline that announces current activity for the product?

Of course I leave it to Apple to help us because the App Store is a walled garden, they're in charge of their own, and our, "nightmare." I'm not unhappy with my overall experience, I'd just like to see it get better, and as a little guy just getting his feet wet, I can use all the help I can get.

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Y.A.A.S.R - Yet Another App Store Rejection

Kent Place Software: "I got an email last night - Apple has rejected BeerAlchemy Touch. They're not happy about an icon I'm using (not that they told me exactly which one it was so I'm taking a guess). Not a disaster but annoying and it will, of course, delay the release of the app." - Ahhh, more quality feedback from the App Store Review Process. "We aren't happy with your icon." [insert chirping crickets here.]

Thanks fellas! That's swell feedback.

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Placing hope in Verizon?

CNet: "When testing a carrier's network, the only constant is that there is no constant. Not all of the Verizon phones that CNET has tested have been exceptional. Similarly, we've reviewed many AT&T handsets that have surpassed the iPhone both in voice quality and 3G data reception. So I'm somewhat skeptical that a Verizon iPhone will be better simply because it's on Verizon." - We have AT&T service and I don't really have an issue with it. I've heard too many horror stories, but it may just be a problem with AT&T in certain areas, like NY or SF. Here in rural California AT&T seems to work fine most of the time.

It would seem that most people that have taken the survey in the linked article believe the iPhone will be better on Verizon, it stands at 64% as I write this.

Oh, and we haven't arrived at the place where mobile phones can replace hard lines. The technology just isn't there yet, not nearly as reliable, and the voice quality can be crummy.

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App store: How do I get...

RxCalc LogoSomething we're trying to figure out for our next release of RxCalc is how do we know what version of the OS our users are running? I don't know how to get that data?

When we kicked release 1.0 out the door we built it against the 2.1 SDK, and tested it with the 3.0 OS to make sure we'd still work. Everything went smooth, but I'd like to move forward to 3.0 if we can. I've heard the adoption rate is fairly high, but I'd still like to know what version of the OS our users are running it on.

So, does anyone know how to get that information?

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The Apple/Google Mess

TechCrunch: "My, how the tables have turned. Earlier this week, we learned that Apple had suddenly begun to pull third party iPhone applications for Google Voice, citing the unconvincing rationale that they "duplicated" some of the iPhone's functionality. We then broke the news that Apple had also rejected Google's own official Google Voice application submitted six weeks prior, sparking a din of complaints from developers and users alike over the arbitrary and possibly anti-competitive restrictions being imposed by Apple. AT&T, too, has been a target of frequent criticism as many of us believe it may have also played a part in the decision." - Boy, this kind of stuff is beginning to really tick off iPhone developers, and the Apple loving community in general. It'll be interesting to see what comes of it. Hopefully we'll get improvements to the App Store that keep developers happy and benefit the users of our apps.

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More App Store Developer Frustration

Stormy Productions Blog: "The second problem is the inconsistency of the review process. One app gets approved with feature set X and another with identical features gets rejected. For example, I submitted two apps on the same day. Both were radio apps for different radio stations and contained identical features. One app was approved after a week while the second app received the dreaded this app is "taking unexpected additional time for review" email. It's been over a month now and this second app still hasn't been approved. I even got the eventual call from Apple telling me I need to change a phrase in the app description and was also told once I did this the app would be all set. The other app that was approved contained this exact same phrase. In fact, both these apps were updates and have had the same descriptions since they were approved by Apple last Fall! So, I immediately changed the text Apple found offensive, and now several weeks have gone by and no word on the app being approved. All Apple is willing to say is "there is no additional information to share at this time"." - This is pretty frustrating. Read the whole thing to get an idea of what he's experiencing. We're cooking up a quick usability fix to RxCalc we'd like to publish, but how long will the review take? Hopefully not too long.

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Finding and fixing iPhone/Mac memory leaks

Ref CountMobile Orchard: "Some memory leaks are easy to see by looking at your code. Some are much more difficult. This is where Instruments comes in. Instruments has a 'Leaks' tool that will tell you exactly where you're leaking memory so that you can get in there and fix it!" - These are the types of tools every developer should learn. Hard as we try to write clean code we will, on occasion, forget to release a reference to an object and you get the dreaded memory leak. I must admit the Cocoa reference counting mechanism is a bit odd to an "old-school" Windows/COM developer, but I've learned to deal with the oddness.

Oh, there is a great tutorial for Windows COM guys to explore if they're coming over to Objective-C/Cocoa to help with the ref counting mechanism.

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Essay on the App Store

Craig Hockenberry: "Now, with 50,000 apps, we're currently looking at three week lead times for reviews. When there are 100,000 apps are we going to be waiting a couple of months for approval? Or more?" - I guess I should consider myself lucky, for RxCalc, we had an 11-day approval time, which just about drove me nuts.

I think the App Store is fantastic, but it's not without it's problems. Craig's post is a great read for any future, or current, iPhone developer.

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Pharmacy, there's an app for that.

RxCalc IconApple Core Labs Blog: "Apple Core Labs first iPhone/iPod Touch application, RxCalc, is now available on the iPhone App Store." - It's been a long time coming. My brother and I knocked RxCalc out over the course of a few months; an hour, or two, at a time. It was a labor of love for both of us. Jay, or Jerry as most know him, has wanted this application for years, and I wanted to develop an iPhone/iPod Touch application. It was a perfect match! We'd started and stopped the idea of a pharmacokinetics calculator many times over the last six, or so, years on various platforms, but the iPhone was such a natural fit we had to see it through to completion this time.

Jerry provided the math, and workflow, I did the UI and wrote the code. It's worked out quite well.

So, here's to a long, and hopefully prosperous, run for RxCalc. We have so many ideas, the list is quite long now, and would definitely like to hear from anyone using it, good or bad.

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iPhone Dev Camp

Mike Sax: "Join me at iPhone DevCamp 3, July 31 - August 2 (yes, that's a weekend) on Yahoo Campus in Sunnyvale, CA." - I may have to go to this, since it's on a weekend. Hmmmm...

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Watch out for the Steam Engine!

Mike Sax: "The release of the latest iPhone OS has effectively rendered the original version of EasyWriter obsolete. I've received a few emails from users enquiring if I plan to take or lobby for legal action against Apple for doing this. After all, that's what companies like Netscape and Opera have done when Microsoft integrated some of the capabilities of their products into the operating system. The short answer is: absolutely not." - I think Mike has been around the block a few times, and he understands the problem associated with creating something on a hugely popular platform. The platform vendor may run right over you! He's taking it all in stride.

Mike, it's nice to see you blogging again, it seems like it's bee quite a while.

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Why should an upgrade be cheap?

Why all the negative press about AT&T's pricing on the iPhone 3G S? Look, I'm not a mobile phone power user, I've had two personal cell phones, which I'm sure is well below the nation average, and I can't figure out why people are upset? If you went out and bought a brand new laptop and two weeks later an updated version came along would you expect the vendor to heavily discount an upgrade to the latest version? No, I didn't think so. So why do people expect heavy discounts on the 3G S? Do other phone vendors give huge discounts on upgraded hardware? That's a serious question. I don't know the answer, but I'm guessing it's a big fat No.

I say if you have an iPhone and you want, key word here being want, an upgrade you should pay the retail price. I chose not to have an iPhone because the plan is pricey, not because the phone may cost a lot. If the month-to-month pricing dropped to "normal" rates I'd probably own one. AT&T can't seem to keep up with technology demands, like supporting tethering on their network and they want to charge a premium for a certain group of users that can't event take full advantage of their hardware? Meanwhile Verizon is steaming ahead. Hopefully we'll see the exclusive deal with AT&T end soon, so we have some competition in the iPhone market, which would be good for end-users, bad for AT&T, but good for us.


Posted by Rob at 5:13 AM | 6 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

iPhone icon viewer

Sebastiaan de With: "Composition is not an icon generator or designer in any way; it is made for people who care about the way their icons look, and want to get a break from the horrible workflow of mashing previews of icons together in Photoshop. There will be several easy-to-access Photoshop templates accessible from the app, but the actual design work is left to applications that are excellent at that kind of work. It will also be completely free!" - This will be an extremely handy application for designers and developers. When you create an icon for the iPhone, or Touch, you create a 57x57 pixel image with square corners and try to keep if fairly plain. The iPhone the rounds the corners and applies lighting across the top of the icon. It can be tough for a designer to visualize the final product and it's a pain to build the app and push the icon the iPhone Simulator just to see what the icon will look like.

This is a tool every iPhone developer, and designer, will want as a part of their toolbox.

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Posted by Rob at 9:31 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Another Strange App Store Rejection

James Montgomerie: "If you're wondering why Eucalyptus is not yet available, it's currently in the state of being 'rejected' for distribution on the iPhone App Store. This is due to the fact that it's possible, after explicitly searching for them, to find, download from the Internet, and then read texts that Apple deems 'objectionable'. The example they have given me is a Victorian text-only translation of the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana. For the full background, a log of my communications with Apple is below." - Not this again? If you can reject Eucalyptus because you can search for "objectionable" material then you MUST pull Safari and Amazon's own Kindle for the iPhone application from the store because you can search for, and find, the exact material this application was rejected for.

This is a real shame. The poor guy explicitly added a check for Kama Sutra to his search feature so he wouldn't be rejected. Problem is will Apple now search for something else and reject it?

If Apple has issue with certain search terms they should provide API's that applications MUST use prior to submitting those search terms to web services, so Apple can let the developer know the term is inappropriate and cannot be submitted. At a bare minimum they need to provide developers with a list of terms they're not allowed to search for, and make their own software abide by the list.

It's sad. Eucalyptus is a beautifully designed application and gives the user complete access to Project Gutenberg.

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Posted by Rob at 3:19 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

MarsEdit Mobile?

I think Red Sweater is up to something, something good.

Based on recent Tweets and Tumblr posts I believe we'll be receiving a present sometime down the road. MarsEdit for the iPhone maybe?

Here's hoping.

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Posted by Rob at 7:44 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Level playing field?

Manton Reece: "Except there's one pretty significant problem, especially on the iPhone. Apple cheats." - For now, I'm fine with Apple "cheating." I can understand why they'd be so cautious about allowing applications to run in the background. Have you ever noticed how many background tasks(services) run in your installation of Windows? The answer is, a lot, and most people probably don't even know they're running. This was a great mechanism for the malware/spyware folks to leverage. I'm not saying an iPhone is vulnerable, but I could see it slowing down, becoming less responsive, if you had a bunch of tasks running in the background.

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Bootstraping iPhone Development

Craig Hockenberry: "There's no two ways about it. If you're going to develop iPhone applications, you're going to do it on a Mac. The whole toolchain is Mac-only: you can't do it in Visual Studio or Eclipse or anything else that runs on Windows" - More great advice. The idea of purchasing a Mac Mini is a great idea, if I do say so myself. It will get you on the road to developing and keep the costs down.

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Great approach

Justin Williams: "I'm a big fan of foundation releases. In other words, release the bare minimum you possibly can to constitute a 1.0 and then let your users help decide the direction your application ships." - Let me add a bit to that statement. Ship a very solid 1.0 foundation release and let your users chime in. I just had this very conversation with a dear friend, and iPhone app developer. He's encouraging me to wrap up my 1.0 iPhone app and get it in the store. He's right, I need to finish up, and just "Ship it!"

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Great iPhone app advice

Double Encore, Inc. : "To determine price, you need to first figure out who your target market is. Hint: for most apps, your target market is probably not 'all iPhone users, everywhere.' Far too many apps are priced for volume on the App Store despite not having a larger enough target market. If your niche app can command $9.99 from those users or industries that would benefit from what you offer, why price your app at $0.99? All you are doing is reducing your chance of breaking even and turning a profit." - I have an iPhone app coming, really, it is, trust me. The thing I'm struggling with most, is price. The application targets a very focused market. There are a couple of apps like it, but not exactly like, and they're sitting between the $0.99 and $3.99 range. When I began working on the product I was thinking I'd sell it for $39.99, yep, that right, very high end. Now it's looking like it'll fit in the $4.99 and under range. We'll see!

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Posted by Rob at 8:28 AM | 1 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Coding for the iPhone

I've been working on my iPhone application again, it's been months, and I've been making good progress. Cocoa Touch and Objective-C are beginning to slowly sink into my thick skull, which is a very good thing. I have a bunch of experiences to share and I really need to sit down and write them up, with hopes is helps another poor Win32/C++/COM guy make the leap into Cocoa/Objective-C land.

Duct Tape, fixer of all things!What are some of the things I hope to talk about? Glad you asked. The application I'm working on is very table oriented. It's really about data collection, so I've formed some very good patterns for dealing with it. Another thing I'd like to address is my view of reference counting with Cocoa, from a COM developers perspective. I'd also like to dive into is comparing Win32/C++/COM to Objective-C/Cocoa to .NET/C#/pick a language. I think Apple used to have a leg up with Objective-C/Cocoa, now I honestly believe .NET may have the edge in the rapid development department.

Hopefully I'll get around to writing about it some day, but you never know, this tease may be the final word.

As of this writing it's still my goal to become a full time Objective-C/Cocoa/Mac/iPhone developer, that's how much I'm enjoying the experience.

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Posted by Rob at 9:38 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Windows Mobile, market leader?

MacWorld: "The real market momentum with operators and the real market momentum with device manufacturers seems to primarily be with Windows Mobile and Android." - Maybe that's so, I'm not sure. Microsoft licenses Windows Mobile to all comers, so it would make sense that their numbers are good, as long as they have licensees. Apple is #1 in the hearts and minds of developers, and users, and they're leading the way in new device sales. Not a bad place to be.

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Posted by Rob at 9:20 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Open Source the iPhone?

Chris Petrilli [via James Robertson]: "It seems everyone has advice for Apple. Hell bent to resurrect them from that horrible abyss of having billions of dollars in the bank and making money almost as fast as it can be printed. Today, it’s five reasons why Apple should open source the iPhone. Let’s take a look at his five 'reasons', in slightly out-of-order execution, shall we?" - Some of the Open Source zealots continue to amaze me with their wacked out arguments. Apple is doing just fine the way they are, thank you very much.

I have zero problem with Open Source, zero. Instead of pushing everybody to your model why not focus on making better software than the other guy? I would still put Linux at a distant third on the desktop, with Apple being #1 and Microsoft being #2 when it comes to form and function. My grandmother really doesn't want to open BASH to get something done. Yes, I'm fully aware it's gotten better, but it's still way, way, behind the competition, and everything you hear from the Linux team points to the server, not the desktop. So, given that, why would you want to open source a beautifully designed, highly functional, mobile OS? Apple built the iPhone for people, not machines.

Here's how I see it. Success on the iPhone for the Open Source crowd would mean you could run vi, emacs, BASH, and SSH on it.

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Posted by Rob at 8:00 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Yawn, Linux on the iPhone

Macenstein: "I’ve never been a fan of how user-friendly the iPhone’s OS is. Sure, it’s OK, but it’s always bothered me that I did not need a USB client, computer and keyboard hooked to it to display a text-navigated kernel, and instead I was forced to use that beautiful graphical interface and intuitive touch screen to navigate my visually stunning and well-designed apps and games." - Once again we have a case of "Pig on Lipstick." While I don't see the lure a lot of geeks do, they do it simply because they can, not because it's useful. Let them play. It's not a real solution and I doubt it ever will be, like most Linux releases it for the geeks, not for real people.

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Posted by Rob at 9:33 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Gifts for the beginning Mac developer

The Unofficial Apple Weblog: "Whether you've just started writing your first lines of code or you've just moved over to the Mac/iPhone platform as a developer, this guide is sure to please." - Looks like a great list to me.

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Posted by Rob at 4:00 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Deciding on a new phone

James Robertson: "I got a chance to play with a BlackBerry Storm last night, and the touchscreen was mostly annoying - I had the devil's own time getting a "C" entered (I got "V" 3-4 times each try. My daughter insists that the iPod touch (and by extension, the iPhone) won't be much better, but I was pretty disappointed." - I've been watching James work through the process of picking a new phone. He's been researching the BlackBerry Storm, which looks pretty darned cool, and comparing it with the iPhone. I have a BlackBerry Curve and I like it a lot. I've already decided I won't be purchasing an iPhone, I'll get an iPod Touch. If I switch phones I'll probably go with something like the Pantech Matrix for it's full size keyboard, or I could go super low end with one of the simple free flip phones. Why? Well, I think having the Touch I'll get most of what I need, minus the phone part. I don't mind having two devices, but I know some do.

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Posted by Rob at 7:40 AM | 1 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Making room for the keyboard

Cocoa with Love: "The iPhone's onscreen keyboard occupies the bottom 216 pixels on screen (140 in landscape mode). That's around half the screen, so if you ever have a text field you want to edit in the bottom half of the screen, it needs to move or it will get covered." - Nice tip for any iPhone developer. There is also a nice example of this in Apple's UIShowcase sample application.

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Posted by Rob at 8:55 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Fill 'er up.

Apple Gazette: "I currently have 7 of the 9 available screens filled to the brim with iPhone Apps of all kinds, and most of them, I don’t really want to be rid of. It would be nice if I could organize them in a more user-friendly way then just swiping from one screen to the next." - Do most folks have that many apps on their iPhone they can't live without? Instead of making a change to the iPhone UI why not use fewer apps?

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Posted by Rob at 7:32 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Aux keyboard?

Greg Raiz: "This is a quickie concept. A while back I had an idea for a multi-touch keyboard. It was an interesting idea and I’m sure at some point it will become reality. However we’re a software company not a hardware player. What could we do in software using existing hardware?" - This is a neat idea. Use the iPhone as an auxiliary keyboard.

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iPhone development tutorial

Cocoa Is My Girlfriend: "Similar to one of my first blog posts on building a basic application for Mac OS X using xcode 3.0, I am going to explain for beginning iPhone/iPod Touch developers how to build the most basic Cocoa Touch application using Interface Builder and an application delegate in xcode 3.1." - Excellent!

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Posted by Rob at 12:27 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

iPhone NDA dropped

9 to 5 Mac: "Apple today gave up the fight to keep the NDA on released iPhone applications built with the iPhone SDK. The NDA has recieved much bad press and complaints from developers who wanted to communicate their experiences with developing programs for the iPod/iPhone platform." - Good move Apple.

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Posted by Rob at 12:16 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

One developers story

Mike Ash: "But even a perfectly normal experience with the iPhone developer program is intensely weird. Compared to the simplicity of developing and distributing a Mac app, Apple's iPhone program is extremely convoluted and strange. Here's the story, step by step."

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Great googlie mooglie

Wired: "Steve Demeter, developer of the vastly popular $5 iPhone game Trism, announced he made $250,000 in profit in just two months." - Wow, that's all I have to say about that.

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Posted by Rob at 9:23 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

iPhone Tetris clone?

Apple Gazette: "If there is a legitimate trademark infringement claim it needs to be settled in a court of law. If the creator of 'Tris' isn’t interested in doing that, then I’m not sure I see a problem with it being removed. I understand that argument that 'he’s a college student, he can’t afford a lawyer' - and I get that, but that’s the system that we have. I would imagine from his point of view its just not worth the hassle - and I would have to agree with that if I was in his situation." - Maybe someone can give this kid some legal advice, or for heavens sake hire him!

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Posted by Rob at 8:55 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

iPhone design tool?

teehan+lax: "Over the past few months we’ve had to create a few iPhone mock ups for presentations. The problem we’ve encountered is the lack of resources to help us design something efficiently. Up until now we’ve used a nice PSD from but we still found ourselves having to build out additional assets or heavily modifying bitmap based buttons and widgets." - If you're a Visio user and you need a UI design tool for the iPhone I'd encourage Chris Roth, Mr. Visio Guy himself, to get to work.

Chris, you could blow this out of the water. Then we need to figure out how to generate the Interface Builder .xib file, and associated handlers. That would be a fun project.

Just having the template for building UI's would be wonderful.

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Posted by Rob at 7:34 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Cast the first stone

Apple Insider [via digg]: "'The idea with open source software is to allow early adopters access to the buggier pieces of code so they can help fix them or let people who want to wait for a solid release the ability to do that,' says developer Casey Borders. 'The key is choice, and Google has taken away that choice and is developing Android like every other piece of closed software.'" - The open source community threw plenty of stones at Apple for their iPhone "restrictions", now it looks like one of their own darlings is causing developers grief. The Karma bug bites back. So let Apple do what they want, and Google can do what they want. Everybody's happy.

Check out the first comment on the digg post.

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Posted by Rob at 8:50 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Let it sell!

9to5Mac: "The LA Times blog is reporting that the infamous, limited edition "I am Rich" application was purchased by six Americans, one Frenchman and one German. That's right. These guys gave the developer, Armin Heinrich, a total of $5,600 dollars and Apple $2,400 for what effectively is a 320x480 pixel Photoshopped picture of a jewel." - Look, if you agree to the terms of the sale, you've clicked the button, money changes hands, it's your problem, not Apple's, and not Armin Heinrich's problem.

Why should Apple not allow Mr. Heinrich to sell his application? If someone want's to spend $1000.00 on an app that does nothing, let them buy it. Buyer beware!

Check out the screen shot of the user comment. This is HIS fault. He clicked the button. Next time think before you act. Why, just tell me why would Apple put some $999.00 joke on their site? Oh, and it's not a scam, he spells out exactly what you're getting for your $999.00.

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Posted by Rob at 9:51 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.


9to5Mac: "IAmRich is the latest from developer, Armin Heinrich. It costs almost $1,000 (£599.99), and does absolutely nothing at all." - Yes, someone will buy it, simply because they have too much money.

Why didn't I think of that?

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Posted by Rob at 8:33 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

iPhone app sales

Tap Tap Tap Blog: "So, the total sales for both apps was $9,896.54 and after Apple took their 30% cut we ended up with $6,927.58 for the 7 day period. Multiply this by 52 and it works out to around $360,000 for the year, assuming things stay the same. Not too shabby at all." - Dang, not bad, not bad at all.

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Posted by Rob at 10:37 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Red Sweater on iPhone

Red Sweater Blog: "Since Apple opened the floodgates to the AppStore for iPhone and iPod touch, the amount of anticipatory feedback I am getting from customers has exploded. Not a day goes by without messages from hopeful customers asking if and when my applications will be available for the iPhone. In particular, Black Ink and MarsEdit." - I'm a big fan of Red Sweater Software, I'm using MarsEdit to publish this welbog. iPhone and iTouch apps are a natural for the two applications he's decided to offer. I think Black Ink in particular could be big for Red Sweater. It would seem games are a big win in general for mobile devices.

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Posted by Rob at 9:05 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Missing the point

Free Software Foundation: "Unfortunately, we are not. The extreme here is represented by Jobs and Apple. The iPhone is an attack on very old and fundamental values -- the value of people having control over their stuff rather than their stuff having control over them, the right to freely communicate and share with others, and the importance of privacy." - Wow. The first item in their five reasons to avoid iPhone 3G says "iPhone completely blocks free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple, who becomes the sole authority over what can and can't be on everyone's phones." Tax? It's strange someone at the FSF would speak of taxes, the GPL is a tax. Sure, I can get my free software and compile it on my box, but where's the integration? My Mac in combination with my iPod is a complete, beautifully integrated, solution. It's the same with the iPhone. It works with desktops and laptops and Apple TV. I can create free applications and Apple will handle the distribution for me. Hey, that's kinda nice. Open source has its place and if you want it to become the dominant force in the software world here's a tip, write better software. Write it for folks like my grandmother, not for me. That means paying attention to all the little things, just like Apple does. Remember guys, the user interface IS the application to the end user, they could care less about the cool algorithm you implemented under the hood. Seriously.

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Posted by Rob at 9:02 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

iPhone 2.0 is a monster

Gizmodo: "It looks like not everyone in AT&T land loves the iPhone. When reader Dennis' mom went to the AT&T stand in the Moorestown Mall in New Jersey to ask about iPhone insurance, they laughed in her face. They then handed her a bunch of articles written arguing for the BlackBerry over the iPhone, printed from places like and Pocket PC Magazine. At the end, there was the name and number of an AT&T regional manager." - My brother tells a similar story. He called AT&T and the customer service lady was frustrated with answering iPhone questions. He said she sighed when he said he wanted to talk about iPhone pricing and plans. I guess it's succeeding, everybody hates 'em.

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Posted by Rob at 8:49 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Job of the week "How would you like to work from home, writing code for the hottest new mobile platform, the iPhone OS?" - How's that for an opening sentence?

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Twenty iPhone applications

Macworld: "With Apple’s iPhone App Store now online, we decided to take a look at some of the more interesting third-party programs, applications and Web sites that have been developed to help make your iPhone an integral tool for both work and fun."

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New iPhone apps

Apple Gazette: "After spending the last hour or so rummaging through the iPhone App Store in iTunes there are several applications that I just can’t wait to get my hands on." - One of the five applications has a horrible UI, TripLog/1040, very much not what you'd expect to see on an iPhone.

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Posted by Rob at 9:08 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

LG Dare, dead on the vine

Apple Gazette: "The phone will retail for $250. You then get a $50 mail-in-rebate…which will bring the cost down to $200 when you eventually get your rebate check in the mail." - The only chance this phone has to compete against the iPhone, it's one and only chance, is it's offered by Verizon. If you don't want to switch networks you have a phone that is a distant second to the iPhone's design. We're going to see tons of clones now, but that's what happens when you're the best of breed.

Good luck with that LG.

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Posted by Rob at 9:07 AM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Brent Simmons, mad man!

Brent Simmons via Twitter: "Finally put NetNewsWire for iPhone in svn. Was relying on Time Machine and scripted backups." - Wow, that's something I'd have done straight away, but I'm paranoid like that.

I think the bigger thing to take from this post is we're getting NetNewsWire for the iPhone. I look forward to using it.

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I'm not fussed about it

Daring Fireball: "Talking about technical progress only serves to focus attention on the fact that it is Apple’s decision, and by all appearances, Apple does not want Flash on the iPhone. Even if Adobe eventually gets Flash running well — by any standard for “running well” — on actual iPhone hardware, rather than just in the iPhone simulator, they can’t ship it without Apple’s explicit permission." - I really don't think the iPhone needs to have Flash support. Apple has gone to great lengths to make sure the experience is what you'd expect from an Apple product. Like the decision not to allow background tasks, I'm OK with that as well. Why? Allowing applications to run in the background comes with its own price. I don't own one, yet, but that will be remedied July 11. I may not have one, but my wife will, and that's essentially like having one myself.

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Posted by Rob at 8:10 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

More on iPhone 2.0

Popular Mechanics: "The first would be the addition of a GPS antenna. I recently sat down with the president of a GPS navigation system manufacturer to ask him how he felt about the prospect of a GPS-enabled iPhone. "Scared [expletive]-less," he said. Hardly a rarity in the handset world, GPS functionality is already used by many carriers to sell location-based services and for Emergency 911 (or E911). And the iPhone already does rough location positioning by cross-referencing tower triangulation with a database of known Wi-Fi hot spots." - Yes, I want one.

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Posted by Rob at 8:32 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

iPhone 2.0 Shipments?

iPhone in the palm of your hand.Fortune: "Searching for shipments to Apple, Inc. (AAPL), employees at the Scottsdale, Ariz., company reported on Friday that they’ve spotted a 'major spike' since mid March in ocean containers marked with a mysterious new label: 'electric computers'" - Hey, even if it's not true, it's fascinating to watch the frenzy developing around iPhone 2.0. If I said I didn't want one, I'd be a big fat liar.

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iPhone experimentation continues

I've been exploring the iPhone SDK lately, it's been fun. I've finally figured some stuff out so it's really starting to get exciting. My "big" hurdle had been understanding how to take advantage of Interface Builder. I finally figured out how to hookup events now that seems pretty obvious, I knew that would happen, light bulb on, bing!

Here's a question for any Mac developers. Do people actually use the Interface Builder to design visually and hookup events, or do they draw the interface and hookup events in code, or do they build the UI all in code? I know, it's a strange question, and I'm sure I'll get a strange mix of answers, if any at all, but I had to ask. I'd love for Daniel Jalkut, or Brent Simmons to chime in.

Doing Windows C/C++ stuff for years had led to a certain expectation with Mac tools. In Windows I only used the graphical tools to create dialogs (at Visio we didn't even do that), then I'd go hook up event handlers in code. It was very straight forward and after using Interface Builder once I can see how easy it would be to hookup events in code instead of letting Interface Builder generate code for me.

I was very happy to discover a hunk of old C++ code compiled and worked like a charm when mixed with Objective-C. It was a pharmacokinetics library my brother and I created a long time back, and it just built and worked. That is a HUGE leg up for me. I can use my bad habit of writing C++ and slowly move into Objective-C. Very nice.

Next hurdle, gaining a better understanding of Objective-C.

It sure would be nice to build a Cocoa version of the Endura WS5000 software, hint, hint.

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Posted by Rob at 9:12 AM | 4 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

Refurb iPhones?

The Unofficial Apple Weblog: "I bought one of these up last time round. This time, you can pick up a 16 GB iPhone for just $349 or an 8GB for only $249. Free shipping and a full one year warranty" - This is a nice way to get a phone, not only for personal use, but for development purposes! Don't want to brick your main phone, do you?

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Posted by Rob at 4:36 PM | 0 comments | Click here for a permalink to this entry.

I really, really, want to go to this "The groundbreaking innovations of Mac OS X Leopard and iPhone OS offer two revolutionary development platforms for developers and IT professionals. The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is the only place you can receive technical information on these sophisticated platforms from the engineers who created them. Bring your code to the labs and work one-to-one with Apple engineers, applying development methods and best-practices you gain from sessions to enhance your application."

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Rob Fahrni has been a Software Developer for 20 years. He's developed DOS, Windows, Linux, iPhone, and Palm based applications in C, C++, Objective-C/Cocoa, C#/ASP.Net, and, yes, even BASIC...
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