Finally Back to the Meetup

Last night I made back to one of my favorite Meetups – Triangle Cocoaheads. The format of the meetup is that there are a few speakers and then people can stand up a showcase an app they are working on. Josh Johnson and Jay Thrash gave two great presentations – Josh showed off how to build a AVFoundation playlist application and Jay showed off Square’s PonyDebugger.

Being a podcaster and video editor, I felt that Josh’s explanation of AVFoundation was great. I had the aha moment that most this framework is just like doing a multitrack editing experience. You build up a composition, which contains tracks, and within tracks you have the actual audio pieces. You can apply mixers to the track, which is an array of params which apply attributes which manipulate the sound. We focused strictly on volume controls, because the demo application was about creating a cross fade between songs. Josh then showed the application he is currently working on where utilized all he showed us. As soon as the video is posted I will link to it. Great job!

Jay then took the group thru PonyDebugger. This allows you to do realtime analysis of your app, either on the simulator or on device. Everything you want to know about it can be found at GitHub. I’ve been looking for a tool like this, as it provides three basic features: Network traffic debugger, Core Data Browser, and View Hierarchy Debugger. The way this is achieved is by adding about 7 lines of code. Amazing!

The session then turned into a discussion on CocoaPods. Now I’ve not used this before, so it was interesting to learn about this, but when the discussion went to CocoaPods vs. GitSubTrees, and GitSubModules it went over my head. Mainly because I am writing my code from scratch with no real third party libraries. Also, I’ve not been working with others, so needing to keep multiple people on the same level of code across machines and libraries is not relevant. But a pretty good discussion ensued and while the group didn’t come to any consensus of which is best, I think this was a great new add to the Meetup.

I am looking forward to getting back into this meetup.

Missed the S4 launch?

Well, as everything would have it, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Launch happened while I was unavailable to watch the live stream. I’ve been trying to find a reliable video but so far the ones I found, have been market private. Oh well, the blogs have been full of tons of good information. Here are just a few of the sites:
Android Central
Business Insider

One of the key things that I was surprised about was the total lack of actually showing the device in person. Apple does a really good job about showing the demos “live” and connecting the devices to the large screens.

Having said that, I did pick up a new device this week, in order to start working on my own Android application programming. I picked up a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1 Inch). The reason I chose it was the price, and availability in a near by store. I must say that I was surprised that I had to charge it before I could use the device. It is NOT snappy. But for testing my application it will work. Maybe that means I will focus on improving performance of the app.

How do you test your app across platforms?

Galaxy IV Launch day

Today is Samsung’s big announcement of the Galaxy IV. The number of leaks and pictures out there are phenomenal, so we probably don’t have to guess what it will look like. Probably don’t have to worry about the specs. The big question is how will it perform? Will it continue to be the Android phone that the masses must have? Will it over take the iPhone 5 in sales?

My goal is to try and catch some of the livestreams today and update this post to talk about what is announced. If I do…

iBooks verses Kindle Books verses Paper Books

One of the things that I like to do is to read books on programming. I guess given my day job and other activities, I don’t get enough time in the day to write code as much as I’d like. (I can’t just jump in and out of code, like I can in a book.) I tend to have books in multiple formats, and wanted to spend a few minutes thinking thru the pros and cons of each format. (Note that when I say Kindle format, I really mean general ebook formats).

Kindle Format
This is my preferred format for reading technical books. The main reason is I can have access to the same book, across so many platforms that I always have the book with me. I can read it on my phone or tablet, I can read it on my Mac or Windows PC and I can read it on my Kindle. The graphics aren’t always the best, but the various readers all do a really good job of getting me to my highlights or my notes. Additionally, I get visibility of how others are highlighting the book.

iBook Format
While I really like the iBook format, it has great highlighting and notes capabilities, there are some books that really take advantage of embedded media to help explain concepts, the biggest complaint I have is that I can only really take advantage of technical books on my iPad. Yes, some of them can be read on the iPhone, but if they are using all the cool features of iBooks, then they only install on the iPad. A great example of this is the series by Kevin J McNeish. The author has done a great job of integrating content but I can only view it on the iPad.

Paper Format
Let’s face it, paper is by far the easiest to deal with. The problem is, you can’t always have all your books with you. You need to plan ahead and ensure that if you are traveling you have the right books with you for the projects you may be learning. Also, I eventually run out of shelf space in my office, and I hate throwing out old books. I still have books on HTML programming from 1996. The O’Reily team does deal with this nicely, in that they allow you free or cheap access to ebook formats for any book you buy.

Perhaps the publishers will all get together one day and allow for digital downloads of books you buy. However, I wouldn’t hold my breath, since easy ripping of CD’s and DVD’s helped drive the digital download of those media, and ripping a book to digital format is a bit harder. I have a decent sheet feeder on my scanner. I’ve tried scanning in some back issue magazines so I could read them on the plane when traveling. The amount of effort it took to do that encouraged me to just re-buy the issues electronically.