Thursday April 17, 2014

Support Driven

I’m the guest on the latest episode of Support Driven, a podcast about software support. I talk about Vesper, and how I see helping customers and answering questions as part of experience design.

Skala Color

An elegant new Mac color picker from Bjango.

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Cancer is Like Christmas

My friend Alex King finally appears on Unprofessional. The results are every bit as awkward as you’d hope.

Sponsored by Briefs.

Monday April 14, 2014

Unlucky Numbers

It’s easy to make the joke that Vesper’s sync solution would be done if Brent would just stop blogging so damned much. Entry #13 of his sync diary is a great example of Brent’s stream-of-consciousness writing style, which I believe to be one of his greatest assets as a developer.

Some of you will note that the number I chose is the maximum value of a 64-bit integer. The problem occurs with sufficiently large integers. Here’s the deal: JavaScript numbers are 64-bit floating point numbers, which means they don’t have enough precision for very large integers.


I’m writing this up as soon as I learned about it. I have to figure out what to do.

The first thing: user IDs might as well be 32-bit integers. (JavaScript can handle 32-bit integers accurately.)

Before we get anywhere near 2147483647 (max for 32-bit integers), we will have hired a team of the brightest server-side programmers in the world, and they’ll figure out what to do.

I don’t want to ruin the ending for you, but there’s no hurry to hire that team of server-side programmers.

Sunday April 13, 2014

[Sponsor] Briefs

Build professional quality prototypes from mockups and wireframes using this powerful Mac application. Built for designers, a brief is easily shared and can be deployed to iOS and Android devices. Great for quick demos and helpful for clients who want to feel the design in their hands.

You can try out Briefs for free today by going to or purchase directly on the Mac App store.

The beta of Briefs very fortunately coincided with the early days of Vesper’s design, which meant that I got to kick the tires exactly when I most needed a prototyping tool.

Friday April 11, 2014

The Record — Nat Irons

If you work in the Mac or iOS business, you owe it to yourself to check out Brent Simmons and Chris Parrish’s show The Record, a fantastic chronicling of our industry. The current guest is my friend and former co-worker Nat Irons.

A Watch for Blind People

They could have gotten away with making it ugly, but they didn’t. I love everything about this story.

The watch has a stark, circular titanium face. There are no hands. There are no numbers. Around a groove in the centre a ball-bearing rotates to mark the minutes. Around the edge of the watch, another ball bearing rotates to tell the hours.

The Bradley was designed for the use of blind people, the latest in a long line of efforts to help those without sight efficiently tell the time.

And shockingly inexpensive.

Wednesday April 9, 2014

Comic Neue

A redesigned Comic Sans, by Australian designer Craig Rozynski.

Comic Sans wasn’t designed to be the world’s most ubiquitous casual typeface. Comic Neue aspires to be the casual script choice for everyone including the typographically savvy.

Still not something I would personally use, but I admire the thought and earnestness that went into this. Scroll to the bottom to see Vincent Connare‘s opinion.

(Via Fernando Rodríguez)

LEGO Game of Thrones Minifigs

Only $220. Get ‘em before the lawyers do.

Learn SICP, Make Friends

Speaking of Understudy, Ken Ferry has posted a great writeup of what the app is all about over at the Understudy blog.

Like private music lessons, a personal trainer at the gym, or an interested friend at work, having someone else aware and invested makes it enormously more fun to keep at whatever you’re doing.

Tuesday April 8, 2014


Really great educational app from my friends Ken Ferry and Bridger Maxwell, both of whom left Apple to build Understudy.

The idea is simple in execution but tricky to explain: Understudy offers two courses — computer science and drawing — based on popular, proven books. When you sign up, the system pairs you with a mentor who is a little further ahead of you. As you spend time doing FaceTime-with-whiteboard-style sessions with your mentor, you’ll also do similar sessions mentoring someone else. A scientifically proven formula for making information stick. You can also use it, as I do, for freestyle whiteboard collaboration.

Full disclosure: I had a hand in design, and appear in one of the App Store screenshots making a stupid face.

Design Reviews

I have a few spare days coming up before the launch of Vesper’s sync update, so I thought it would be fun to open that time for another round of design reviews. If you have an iOS or Mac project that could use some polish, I’ll poke at your app for one to three days (your call) and walk you through a report on what you could do to take things up a notch. $1,000 per day, flat rate. If you’re interested, get in touch.

[Update: Let's do this more often.]

Major Spoilers

Lex Friedman returns to Unprofessional this week to talk about the conclusion of How I Met Your Mother. It was a little like getting the band back together.

Monday April 7, 2014

John and Brent on Azure

A longer version of the Vesper video that was featured in Microsoft’s Azure keynote last week. Watch as John Gruber misses his train because he was looking at his phone.

An iOS Developer Walks Into a Microsoft Conference

Justin Williams went to Microsoft’s Build conference last week and had a pretty good time.

A week or two before Build, I received a text message from Dave Wiskus of Q Branch/Vesper asking if I was still attending Build. He then informed me that he, Gruber and Brent would be attending the conference as well as part of the keynote.

2.5 hours into the second day keynote, lo and behold my long-time Mac and iOS development friends showed up on a Microsoft stage talking about how Vesper’s sync services are powered by Microsoft Azure.

Man, some people will do anything for a free Xbox.