WWDC 2016 – All Software – All the Time

Yesterday’s WWDC keynote was all about software.  Hardware wasn’t talked about, except in the context that certain hardware ran certain operating systems. I tend to take lots of notes during the keynote, and then read a bunch of blogs to fill in the blanks.  I also downloaded the keynote and will look at it again.  But here’s a quick run through of my notes, in the order to the keynote.  Tim kicked it off and talked about they now have four major operating systems.

First up watchOS3, this was a major refinement of how the Watch will work.  Hopefully all these features will work as well as described.  I’ve installed the developer beta last night, and will see how polished these features are. (Realized, that I cannot discuss things that are not publically discussed, so I will be learning but not sharing much of the beta over the summer.  I do this every summer and there are always bad times.)

  • Background updates, in memory for favorite apps – 7 times faster launching.  This is huge!  I had submitted a watch app in the past, and it got rejected due to performance.  We shall see if a recompile on XCode 8 fixes this.  I am hopeful.
  • Dock will be the side button.. so you can put your favorite apps.  I think of this like freeing up the side button from the your friends list. It will be interesting to see what apps make it to this dock on my watch,
  • Control center swipe up from the bottom – Getting the watch to behave this same was iOS, this is nice.  (Now realistically it looked very similar to the first pane of the old glances.)
  • Messages.. tap to reply.. and scribble – right on the watch, and it does text recognition and translates it.  I am not a big user of Messages (on any platform), but perhaps this will make it better.  I really do like the text recognition aspect for typing out a longer message.  What was really impressive in the demo was they showed it recognizing the Chinese character set.
  • Mini-mouse coming to watch face.. with matching colors to the bands.  This is a bit of a yawner for me.  I’ve not used the Mickey so why would I use Minnie-Mouse.  
  • Activity rings, watch band…. to see progress of workouts.  I may have to try this one for the weekends.  During the week I love having my calendar on my wrist.
  • Simple face – numerals.  Really a bunch of new watch faces, surprised they didn’t open up watch faces to developers.  Maybe next time.
  • Swipe to switch to the watch face you’d like. (edge to edge swipe).  This is a nice feature.. Switch between work hours, to evening, to weekend – easily.
  • Reminders and timers are now swipe-able.. and have updates.  Basically, a lot of options to drive ease of use and fewer taps to get to things.
  • SOS for the watch.. hold the Button until it pops up. will also notify your contacts after the 911 call is done. And then will show your medical ID. It knows the emergency number to call based on Geolocation information.  This feature will be huge for people.  I think this focus on safety and health is a key benefit of Apple’s wearable.
  • Added competition to WatchOS for activity sharing in the Rings. I know a lot of people will like this… For me it’s a bit of a Meh…
  • Added new features for wheelchair users.  Another really great update.  I can’t wait to see how this one plays out in the real world.
  • New app called Breathe – to quiet mind, relax body, and deal with stress.  I will be using this one a lot … 
  • Apple Pay within Apps on the watch.  Expanding their ecosystem for Apple Pay, this will come up again.
  • Sprite kit and scene kit support, etc. Yeah!  Real games coming to the watch – I hope.

tvOS – This was presented by Eddie Cue and he was really struggling on this talk.  He screwed up multiple times, and even showed the magic of how they do their presentations.

  • Over 1300 video channels now… and 6,000 native apps… including Sling (coming today). watch 4 games at once its Fox Sports Go….  Basically tvOS is doing well.
  • Remote App, now available on the iPhone…. (about damn time) including siri remote and touch for navigation, and accelerometer to play games, text with the keyboard
  • SIRI for TV – New features… And it seems this will make it even more fun to yell at your TV!
  • Search Movies by Topics – and searches 650,000 movies and tv shows…and now it searches Youtube too.  Live Tune-in – “Watch ESPN 2” takes you right the channel and hits play.
  • Have a “fix” for Authentication problem, with SINGLE SIGN-ON!!! You sign in once on your apple tV, and it is also coming to iOS.
  • Dark mode… This is good for me, if you are watching a movie with the lights off and you swap to  another show, light mode could blind you!!
  • Automatically downloads Apps to Apple TV when you get it on your iPhone.  So now you I will get the apps for those other apps you get.  Nice convince.
  • DEVELOPERs section. This is a start of Apple opening up their platforms. 
  1. Replaykit – live broad cast game play
  2. Photokit – full access to iCloud photo library
  3.  Homekit – apps to control devices

Next up OS X with Craig.  Or as it is called now macOS… He began with the announcement that the name is changing. It will still have a special name and it is called “macOS Sierra”.  I like this name, as I used to swim for the Sierra Nevada Sharks growing up in California.  Focus on continuity and iCloud as ways of improving macOS.  To me this aligns with the parity discussions.

  • Continuity – Secure p2p wireless protocols across devices, which allows communications to do things like:
  • AutoUnlock! – Leverages Watch because it is a secure device on our wrist. Using time of flight networking to ensure you a local to the device.  I’ve used an app called knock in the past, that was “ok” but this seems like it will make it very useful.
  • Universal Clipboard – “big reaction in this one” copy on iOS and Paste on MacOS. Very cool… Will be using this for sure.  (Check back in a year to see if I really do use it).
  • iCloud Drive – how many of your are using this?  I’ve been trying and it has been OK, but not great.  I think the updates they announced will radically improve the usablilty.
  • Desktop accessible “Everywhere” – so it will also be available on other macs.. and your iOS devices.  I would expect that enterprises wil turns this feature off.
  • Optimized storage – This is one feature that would be cool if it works, but has so many opportunities to go wrong.  The basic ideas is that it will move older files to the cloud, available on demand, and it will automatically delete files you don’t need (cache files, etc.).
  • Apple Pay on the Mac.  This is another great expansion of their ecosystem.  It will allow you to get to websites and pick Apple Pay, and then approve the payment with either your watch of iPhone. Available USA UK, Canada, Australia, China Singapore, coming to France and Switzerland.
  • Tabs will in all of your multi-windowed apps with no modifications required to support this.  I am not a big user of tabs, so not sure if I care.
  • Picture in Picture on the desktop for both fullscreen and desktop mode.  I really like using picture in picture on my iPad.  Glad to see this coming to the Mac.
  • One more thing – Siri for the MAC!!  Big cheer here. You can pin SIRI results in Notification Center, and then drag from the notification center output to keynote and other apps.  This will be convinient.

iOS X again with Craig.  A lot of updates to the way you interact with the iPhone.

  • Lock and home screen. Raise to Wake – shows the lock screen information without touching a button.
  • Functional notifications with 3-D touch on lock screen.  Now you can interact more with your lock screen.  I am wondering how many of these features will be removed on enterprise devices.
  • Control center is redesigned and swipe over for music.  Nice option to expand the usefulness of the control center.
  • Slide lock screen to the right… for camera access.S
  • Slide lock screen to the left … for widgets 
  • Simple add widgets from the 3d Touch of a third party app…   Overall the lock screen and home screens will become more functional.
  • SIRI the biggest news is opening it up to developers!!!!!!!  It will allow people to expand SIRI for certain domains.

            1. messaging, 

            2. ride booking, 

            3. photo search,

            4. workouts, 

            5. payments, 

            6. VoIP calling, 

  • Quick Type – bringing SIRI knowledge base to keyboard, via LSTM -deep learning in longer context.  All deep learning is on the device only.  A common refrain across the iOS annoucement was Apple doubling down on your privacy.  Relevant location and contact info. based locally on the device.  And a feature for my Mom multi-lingual typing. So you can type between German and English (as an example) without changing keyboards.
  • Photos – Places updates that include Advanced Computer Vision – to provide local On device information identified on the device. With privacy protection (on your device).  So automatically group all your pictures of people. Also do scene and other analysis to group pictures and allow you to search.  Google does this too, but all on the cloud.  By doing this on the cloud, Google potentially leaks your personal information.  You can also build memories – to analyze across your library to cluster photos to build a memory (ON Device to protect your privacy – see the refrain here).All these features are also available on the Mac.
  • Maps – and this was handed off to Eddie Cue. All new design and more info in advance area including: suggestions, filter on places you may want to go, Navigation, more info, easier to control, and traffic on route, auto zoom in and out based on speed,waypoints on the way (like how far is the next bathroom),also available on CarPlay – turn by turn in the instrument cluster of your car.  Oh yeah, and open maps up to developers for creation of extensions, I.e. added book a ride app extension.
  • Music… Had singer up on the stage.. Who tried to hype the crowd.  Key points 15 million paid subscribers, and all new redesigned from the ground up (clarity and simplicity).  Added lyrics in the album view.
  • News…redesigned more focus on you and on trending, added subscriptions to News (I wonder if Air and Space Smithsonian app will be put in here) and added breaking news notifications on the lock screen.
  • Homekit new Apple app (pretty much expected) called Home – A new app to control all home kit devices which allows you to control every HomeKit device in your house, use Siri and add scenes for things like turn off everything, I am going to bed.  Also, to go back to the Control center thoughts, there will be a new page for the Home app.
  • Apple TV can be a secure point for remote access and automation via the TV, securely end to end encryption and geo fence your house.  This will be Apple’s hub for your HomeKit house.
  • Phone features are now being enabled for developers.  They added voice mail transcription, and API extension (which they demoed to identify spam calls), integration of VoIP API across apps, so you can always communicate with certain contacts with certain apps like Skype.  And for enterprise users CISCO integration so you can hand off between your iphone and your office phone.
  • Messages. This is the most frequently used app on iOS.. Rich links in messages,play video inline, can see in camera automatically. Emojis 3X bigger in transcript,predications as you type, and you can emoji-fy your messages. Added bubble effects… tap back like Slack … Handwritten messages for that personal touch…Digital Touch…Full screen actions in messages …  Music integration – in line … so many effects – this will get very annoying.  And once again opened up messages to developers (iMessage Apps).
  • Spiit view in Safari on iPad
  • Privacy features…end to end encryption by default in face time… all deep learning, etc. is on-device … no capture of data from searches on the internet … Something they called Differential privacy –  Apple uses this technique and hashing, subsampling, and noise injection to keep users private.. but get patterns, etc. to drive learning

And finally Tim came back on Stage – Swift has been out for two years, they have over 100,000+ swift based apps on the App Store.  After they open sourced the language – it is now the number one language on GitHub.  The big annoucement wasi ntroducing an App for iPad called Swift Playgrounds! Learn code on the iPad – very cool for kids to master the basics of code… Includes coding keyboard on the iPad.

Overall love that Apple Double downed on the privacy and security aspect.  Should be a cool summer of code.

Backing out a Beta

I’ve always liked playing with Beta software.  As sometime developer, the feedback you get from crazy people like me who like testing things that aren’t quite done is invaluable towards making your software better.  Sometimes a beta can be problematic with some of the other software you are using, and that causes me to back it off.  My 2011 MacBook Pro is my development machine, and the machine I record and edit my podcast on, and I had forgotten to turn off beta updates for OS X, so recently 10.11.6 beta got installed on it.  As soon as this happened I started having problems with Audio, this has happened with every version of OS X for the last few years, and when it gets too problematic, I’ve been able to go to the AppStore and download the latest OS X GA code, run the installer, and get back to a working machine.

This week, I was getting ready to edit the podcast, and was still having the problem with audio, so I did my trick. This is when all hell broke lose. The backout procedure that I used failed, and I had a black screen of rebooting craziness.  The Mac was belly up, and I had to boot to recovery mode.  Going to recovery mode, usually means, just re-running the installer.  That failed… Same issue.  I had to backup the machine and dig back into my mind to how I could do this via the command line.  To do this, I connected a USB drive, and manually navigated the shell to get to the right device and then found the Ditto command!  This allowed for me to easily copy my home directory to the USB drive.

After this, I ended up erasing the drive via Disk Utility and doing a full “new” install.  I copied the data over, and then reinstalled a ton of apps.  In the end this took me almost two days of time.  The copying of the drive to the USB drive via the ditto command was slow…But it validated the copy so that was worth it.

Today’s lesson, don’t use beta’s on your production machine.  Did I learn this… We shall see.

MoogFest Wrap-up

Well, I had plans to post a daily blog entry for each day of MoogFest.. but to be honest… It was way too much fun to spend time writing a blog each day.  So let’s go thru the experience a bit.

Friday started with a four our session to build a new sequencer.  The MoogFest Engineer ticket gets you time with the designer of a new piece of kit, and you actually get to build your own.  This year was a BFAM (Brother From another Mother) which is a companion piece to the Mother-32.  Having not soldered since high school I was a bit worried, but it was so well organized and layed out that after 261 solder points, I am almost an export.  (Well at least capable).

My board had small capacitor on it that was broken and I had Eric from the design team replace it for me.  We ended the four our session with a completely soldered board, and ready for Saturday’s session when we finished build the case and actually running a few audio tests.  What a BLAST!  The sound of the BFAM was full, loud and fun!

Friday after noon I was only able to do one session, it was a set of video’s with a live performance by “I Speak Machine”.  The movies were entertaining, but the music was very cool.  The show ended with an ambient version of Gary Numan’s song “Cars”, by I Speak Machine.

The rest of the night was live performances at the Carolina Theater’s  Fletcher Hall. The performers were all very trance ‘ ambient music like.  Rival Consoles was the most exciting of the three, jamming to the his own music.  Alessandro Cortini was a bit too relaxed for my taste, and Grouper sat on the stage playing here guitar (and synthesizers).  I was in the front row and couldn’t tell when Grouper was actually playing things, as I saw more of her forehead than anything else.

The night ended for me with Gary Numan playing his “Pleasure Principal” album!  This is the concert that he cancelled in Atlanta back in 2010 that I had attended.  So I finally got to see it and he did an awesome job!

Saturday started with a great session all about Max-MSP, with the instrucuter showing how he uses it to build very ambient videos for live electronic shows.  And then a session on how the ear and brain understands Music.  The session was really interesting and informative; however, it came down to they had no idea how the brain understood music.  So the title was a bit misleading. 

I then went back to finish up building my Brother From Another Mother sequencer.  It was tons of fun, and I am looking forward to using the device to create a new entry sound for my podcast GamesAtWork dot Biz. Check out this final image of my new toy:

I then quickly went over to the Carolina Theater to see the final Gary Numan Show… One of my favorite albums of his – Telekon!  I decided to sit in the front row of the first balcony which allowed me a great view of the stage show and some incredible pictures –  like this one:

Sunday morning started with playing with LittleBits and building an IR LED based sound device… The show ended for me after watching Laurie Anderson on Sunday afternoon.  I’ve liked her performances since the song “Oh, Superman!” From my days in high school.  She was amazing as she talked about some of here recent work, including an exhibit where she built a giant seated statue where she projected the live video feed from one of the former Gitmo prisoners.  The guy is now in West Africa, where he is working to promote women’s rights.  He had been rounded up in Afganistan at the age of 14… He claimed not to be a Talbian supporter, but was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Given what he is doing now, and that he was never actually charged with anything… I tend to believe him.

She also talked about her experience as the ONLY ever NASA artist in residence.  Amazing speaker… Bummed I missed here performance on Saturday, but it conflicted with finishing up my BFAM Sequencer.  A few other interesting artists I saw where “I Speak Machine” and “Silver Apples“… Check them out!!!

MoogFest 2016 – Day 1

This is my first time at MoogFest (and I’ve been dying to go since I first heard about it a few years back).  This year is the first year that it is downtown Durham, and they are doing it up right!  I ended up getting the VIP Engineer setup, so I can make my own Synthesizer tomorrow (more to come on that – probably Saturday), they had a check in at The Durham Hotel and I picked up my Swag Bag.  The nice thing is, it is a tote bag, especially since I can’t carry my backpack into events after 6pm.  I started the day checking out the spaces, and ended up over at the Full Frame Film location.  This was the presentation of Beats and Star Wars.  While I didn’t really pay attention to the write up, it was a great presentation on a local space and the work of a UNC Chapel Hill professor, who is going around the world helping people get into producing music with everything you can carry in one backpack.  

They just launched a KickStarter for BlackSpace – I highly recommend you check it out, especially if you want to support the creative community in Durham.  

I checked out the modular marketplace, where a bunch of synth companies are setup to show off cool kit.  I spent some time playing with  the Artiphon – which was pretty amazing.  I had checked out their Kickstarter a while back, but never thought it would really work.  But, work it does!  (In my best Yoda voice). You can bend the strings, change instruments, and shift the pitch up and down… With amazing ease.   The device is $399, which is a bit rich for me, but anyone who actually plays music should find this to be completely within the range for a good instrument.  If you are in town, and ever wanted to see what this thing could be, go check them out!

I spent the afternoon in a session called The Code of Music, the session was a workshop where we tested out a bunch of apps, to get a feel for how music could be made.  We then designed our own musical experience based on design principles.  I came up with an idea loosely based on a combination of “The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T”, The “Top Secret” Drum Corp, and the App Fugue Machine.  The basic idea is a performance piece where you have up to 1,000 kids on a stadium field.  Each kid has a keyboard for use with one hand, a wearable sensor, and a simple arpeggio that they play.  As the move around the field, the sensors in the wearable will adjust the pitch of the keyboard.  At a pre described distance from other kids, it will be in harmony.  As they get closer, it gets more and more into dissident sound, as the pitches start bending towards each other.  Finally as the kids touch, it becomes the same notes.  So they get to a clear and perfect pitch.   Crazy idea, I know, but would be pretty awesome to see!!

I then walked around and found that I could pick up all three live albums (signed) by Gary Numan from his UK Tour of his classic albums. These are the same three albums he’s going to be playing at MoogFest!  So I picked them up.  Can’t wait to hear them after the shows here in Durham!  Here’s a pic:

Why do routers suck so much?

I’ve had a wireless network in my house since about 2001, and in these 15 years.. I’ve noticed that the quality of routers has declined a lot.  I don’t know if this is caused by my ISP, or by the routers themselves.  When I first setup my house, I actually had a dial up modem that would be used to connect to the net.. I then switched over to a cable modem.  Since switching to a cable modem, I’ve had the same ISP the entire time, and while speeds have increased and the number of devices I’ve had connected has also increased, the overall performance has degraded.  I find myself at least once a week and sometimes multiple times a day, having to reboot my router, and my cable modem. 

I’ve gone from d-link, to Apple, and now a google On-Hub router, and none of it seems to make a difference.  The cable modem is a standard surfboard, that the cable company recommends, even though I bought my own (and have replaced it once already).

I understand that a cable modem setup, actually puts you on a shared network with your neighbors, but that shouldn’t cause a problem if the entire network is setup correctly.  I am wondering if there is a good site for debugging where the problem is?

The joys of work related travel

I can’t sleep on planes anymore.  This is a big problem when traveling to Europe, as you almost always have a redeye, which to me means working thru the night on the plane, and then trying to get a hotel to let me do an early check-in, so I can shower, and perhaps catch a nap before heading to the office.  

Well my current trip wasn’t going to let that happen.  When I left home to fly up to JFK on the way to Zurich, I had a small delay in RTP.  This wasn’t going to be a problem as I had 3 hours between landing in NY and flying out to Zurich.  Little did I know that, this was only the start of the fun.  In RTP, we had a small ground hold, and then when we landed at JFK, we ended up getting parked on the Tarmac. We got to take a bus, to get to the terminal all.  All very unplanned, and adding about 45 minutes total delay to the 1st leg of the flight.

After this, I was able to grab a quick dinner, and head to my gate.  Unfortunately there was no plane.  We had mechanical problem and after about an hour delay, the plane showed up.  While I waited I did get to see a nice NY sunset:

We finally boarded and then had to wait another half hour on the plane before we actually got in the air.  So far, only 90 minutes behind.  When we landed I had a very expensive cab ride to a wonderfully quaint hotel recommended by a local.  And now I sit and wait for the reception to show up so I can check in.   It’s gonna be a very long day.

Apple Watch Notifications

My Apple Watch Apps

One of the biggest benefits that most people use the Apple Watch (and I would assume any smart watch) for is notifications. I am beginning to wonder if I have nerve problems in my wrists. The reason I say this is that I don’t feel the notifications very often, even though I have the watch set to maximum haptic strength and notification. I also notice that when I do have the sound turned on, I don’t always hear it.

When I think of this, I remember how much I like the chimes of our standing clock at home, which I don’t “hear” 80% of the time. I guess what this really means is that I acclimate to sounds easily and they go back into my subconscious some how. I wonder if other people experience this.

Delay in App Update and Thoughts on Drones/Robots

Well, it seems that if you upgrade your development mac to a Beta version of OS X, the App Store won’t let you submit an update to your app. While I understand the limitations in the past, that if you used a beta version of the compiler the app could not be submitted, this one is a bit of a surprise.  I am not sure what Xcode is doing from a build perspective where the OS version would impact it.  Oh well, I guess I will wait until the GA of the latest OS X beta.

While I was contemplating the impact of the OS on the build process, I read an article about an IndieGoGo campaign for a Fire Fighting drone.  The article was more a cautionary tale about crowd funding, but my brain (as it is want to do sometimes) wondered to a totally different thought.  As we get more automation and innovation in the world, we look at those jobs that are dangerous or low skilled as easy pickings for new robotic solutions.  This removes the low end of the job market for many people.  We justify this by saying, this will bring new opportunity for high skilled and higher paying jobs.  While at one level, this logic makes sense, I find that we don’t address the other half of the problem.  That is, as we take away low skilled, low paying jobs, we reduce the ability for people to enter the job market at all.  Especially if we are driven by quarterly P & L statements, which reduce the incentive to take the profit and invest it into job training and education projects for displaced, low skill labor.

Drones that fight fires, would reduce loss of life and address the safety concerns of fight fires…but would we program a device to rescue a dog, in a high rise fire, if that would result in a 25% likelihood of losing the drone?  How about 50%?  75%?  What about a “priceless” piece of art?  What about an elderly relative who is on life support, and likely to die tomorrow?  What calculation would be made?

While a robot might perform skilled manufacturing for a complex piece of new technology, would the person who just got displaced by the robot be able to afford the new tech?  Do I need to continue to fund a pension plan for workers displaced by the robot?  

While robots may be a critical technology for those countries with negative population growth, they just don’t have enough workers to support their parents and grandparents … Enabling this technology (which I truly find to be cool and exciting) doesn’t mean that it will only be used in those countries where workers are hard to find.  Companies are global not local, and they will leverage the technology to improve their quarterly results globally.

Technology consistently moves faster than legislation and at times faster then morality… I believe we need to foster both at the same level.  We need to ensure that as we enable the next level of technology, we don’t leave behind our parents and grandparents or our kids and grandkids, and that we continue to innovate at the society level… Science fiction stories have two tropes, one where we no longer have to work and spend our time in leisure served by happy robots, and one where we are the servants of the robots.  I hope we find our path to the first and not the latter.  In order to find that path, we need to make sure that we don’t just focus on the P&L statement of corporations, but we focus on society as a whole.

IPhone Updates, Downloads, and Monday Mornings

Ok, I didn’t start this process on a Monday morning, but there was an “emergency” update by apple on Thursday that seemed to hose my iPhone.  The update was 9.3.1 and was to address a problem some people were having when they tried to click on links in emails.  To be honest, I rarely try to do this so I didn’t appear to be impacted by the people. However, as a developer, I tend to update my devices as soon as the updates are released.  

I recently turned off Apple Music and went back to just using iTunes Match.  With a library of about 18,000 songs, I was not getting much value out of Apple Music.  In order to allow me to have access to all my music when traveling, I had started to download one of my playlists (it’s called unplayed and unbanked – which allows me to listen to a ton of music I haven’t listened to in about 3 year or more).  This is when all my problems began.  My iPhone was having issues downloading the 8,000+ songs, and kept hanging.  After it hung, the phone would get very hot and burn thru the battery.  I tried canceling the downloads, and they would magically start back up!  It also was stopping me from being able to download new apps.  It seemed that no matter what I did (restart phone, hard restart of phone, you name it), the phone would just hang on downloads and burn thru the battery.

I decided yesterday that I had enough, and did a factory reset on the phone!  Then more troubles!  My latest backup was causing the same problems, so I went back in time and chose a backup from before the 9.3.1 update.  The restore ran over night, but sometime during the night, it stopped.  And this morning I’ve had to start reinstalling all my apps (one at a time).  At least now the phone seems to be installing apps again.  Wish me luck!

In the mean time, I found a bug in WastedTime 6.0 and submitted a fix to my App to version 6.1.  Hope Apple releases it soon!

Oh – and Happy Monday!

Minor Bugfix Update

I have just uploaded a new version of WastedTime to the iOS AppStore.  It should be posted by Apple in a few days.  I realized that my choice of hot keys for the iPad Pro edition didn’t work with all external keyboards.  So I had to change the keyboard short cuts.   Would love to hear your feedback!