Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Creating a Horizontal Scrolling Collection View Within a UITableView

A few months ago, I joined OrgSync as an iOS developer.

One of the things the developers there really encourage is sharing with the community. We’ve recently kicked off a developer blog here.

OrgSync Developer’s Blog

As part of that, I’m adding some iOS-specific posts about some of the interesting challenges we’ve looked into for our projects.

I recently looked into the idea of creating a horizontally scrolling view embedded inside a UITableView. Here’s a post about the solution I came up with using UICollectionViews.

Creating a Horizontal Scrolling Collection View Within a UITableView

The question of WWDC

This year, Apple took a different approach to selling tickets to their annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC or “dub, dub” as some devs call it).

They announced a day ahead of time when the tickets would go on sale instead of taking the traditional approach of selling tickets as soon as the announcement went out. 

With the conference selling out faster every year (last year tickets went in two hours),  pre-announcing the sale at least gave everyone a fair shot at getting a ticket. Last year, tickets were gone before most people on the west coast even knew they had gone on sale.

So, at 10 am PST yesterday, the mad scramble began. 

Two minutes later, it was over. 

Sold out. 5,000 tickets were gone.

A lot of well known developers were unhappy on Twitter because Apple’s system blocked them from completing their transaction. There were a number of complaints of people who had the ticket in their carts, but could not complete the transaction before tickets were sold out.

Apple has been reaching out to some of those individuals by phone and giving them a second chance at getting a ticket. They’re also increasing the speed of when the session videos will be available, promising that they’ll be available during the conference.

There are still a lot of developers left out in the cold, though.

How do they fix it? 

One option, some argue, would be to provide a lottery system. In a way, they’ve kind of already done that. 

If they make it more organized, then how do you determine who qualifies for the lottery? Do they add qualifications to it above just having a developer membership?

One thing they could do, I think, would be to offer a 1 day pass. The one day pass would basically only allow people into the first day of sessions, which would cover the keynote and the overview sessions. 

The firehose of information usually doesn’t get turned on until day 2. 

They may have to scale things up for that first day, but it might eliminate some of the people (like press) who buy tickets and only attend the first day of sessions.

Another option. They could scale up the conference. I saw someone mention that JavaOne hosts 20,000 in Moscone. 

That sounds easy, right? 

Apple sends 1,000 engineers to the conference and makes them available to answer developers questions. Right now, that’s a 5 to 1 ratio of attendees to engineers. If you scale things up to 20,000, then that ratio goes up to 20 to 1.

Okay, then, someone argues – send more engineers. 

Assuming Apple has the manpower, that means they could be pulling more guys off major projects. They may be able to mitigate that to some extent, but I don’t know if they have enough manpower to keep the 5 to 1 ratio.

It’s more than just the engineers, though. What about sessions?

Even when I went in 2009, some sessions were impossible to get into. I’ve heard that the problem hasn’t gotten better, and that’s with only 5,000 attendees.

How much harder will sessions be to get into when you have 10,000 or 20,000 people trying to get in?

They could repeat sessions, maybe. But, there again, you’re pulling engineers away from labs to present multiple times.

Okay – how about this? Let’s host multiple WWDC’s either in San Francisco or regional ones around the world.

The major challenge there is that now you have to pull engineers off for additional weeks to attend multiple WWDC’s. If you host it outside of San Francisco, now you have to spend the time and money sending developers to location X. 

Certainly, Apple could afford to do that. Can they afford to take engineers away from their projects for the additional weeks? 

Here’s another thing for you to think about? I may be wrong, but I thought I had read something in the stories about the new “mothership” headquarters in Cupertino being large enough to host WWDC there. 

Could they scale the conference up and host it at the “mothership”? 

While I would love for Apple to do something to allow more developers to attend WWDC, there are no easy solutions. 

 

Review: The Raven Boys

Even though the target audience is young adult, Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys is an entertaining supernatural story that captures all of the teen angst you’d expect, but is still engaging for readers of all ages.

The story centers around Blue Sargent, a 16-year girl from a small town in Virginia. She’s part of a family of local psychics, but unlike her family, she’s not a psychic. Instead, she’s more of a psychic “energizer bunny” that boosts the abilities of the others.

Instead of feeling shunned by her “freakish” family, Blue embraces her difference and really doesn’t care about what other people think of her. Blue stays away from boys because they were trouble, and she especially avoids the boys from Aglionby Academy, “because they were bastards.” Aglionby is a nearby prep school for the privileged, and the boys who go there are called “raven boys” after the school’s mascot. We see her distaste for these rich boys early on in the story. While working as a waitress (one of her part-time jobs) at the local pizza joint, one of the boys offers to pay for her time just to so she’ll talk to one of his buddies.

During an annual ritual at a cemetery where Blue and one of her family watch the spirits of the future dead, Blue sees a spirit for the first time. She’s able to converse with the spirit, and learns his name is Gansey. While still trying to understand why she saw the spirit, things get crazier as she learns days later that Gansey has made an appointment for a session with her psychic family. Blue discovers than Gansey is the same boy who approached her at the restaurant, and his buddies are part of the that group.

She discovers that there’s more to Gansey and his prep-school buddies. They’re on a quest to find a mythological sleeping king and believe that ley lines (lines of concentrated mystic energy) are the key to finding him. Supposedly, whoever awakens the king will be granted a great favor. Despite warnings to stay away from the boys, Blue joins in on the quest and she’s quickly accepted as part of the group.

The boys themselves are a bit of a mismatched group with very different backgrounds, but all are drawn into Gansey’s quest to find the king. The reader is drawn in as well as we learn more about the family backgrounds of Blue and the boys, more about the quest, and Gansey’s obsession with finding the king. Although each is helping Gansey with his quest, they are all on their own quest to understand who they are and their place in the world.

The supernatural aspect of the story revolves around spirits, psychic visions, rituals, and ley lines and is designed to be very vague and intangible. There are no vampires or werewolves in this story which is also a nice change of pace.

There’s also not a lot of romance, either. Blue does find herself attracted to a couple of the boys in the group, it doesn’t become a central part of the story – which, after reading the whiny characters from the Twilight books, is a welcome change.

Despite having some nice effects involving one of the magical locations they eventually find, the deliberate fuzziness of what is happening, magically speaking, gets in the way of the story – especially at the climax. You’ll read through the climax and the aftermath and still be left wondering what exactly happened.

The other unfortunate aspect involves the antagonist. The reader learns and suspects who the antagonist is early on in the story, but he really doesn’t do anything to elevate the stakes for Gansey, Blue and others until very late. In fact, one of the pivotal scenes in the book the antagonist’s arrival is purely coincidental. I wish the antagonist had been more active in elevating the stakes – or at least put pressure on the others that someone is taking an active interest in their quest. That way, once the main characters learn of his identity, the stakes would be even higher.

Outside of that, I found the story to be very enjoyable. After reading the Twilight series years ago, it’s a nice relief to find a young-adult series with a strong-minded female lead character as well as Gansey and his cohorts. Despite the vagueness of the supernatural aspects of the story, I’m looking forward to picking up the next story in the series to see what happens next.

Joy of Audiobooks

Audiobooks, for me, are the one thing that help me keep my sanity through my long commute in DFW traffic. Audible.com is a perfect solution for me. It gave me enough credits to burn on audiobooks, and I would go through about 2-3 books a month. 

After I quit my job in pursuit of the dream of “going indie,” I forgot to cancel my Audible account until five months after the fact. This meant I had built up a lot of credits to burn through. So, I went on a shopping spree before canceling my account. After finding books that I knew I wanted to listen to, I started going through the best-seller lists and tried to find a number of books with good reviews that sounded interesting.

Now, I’m working full-time again, and unfortunately, I’m back to my long commute. I’m finally able to work though my stockpile of audiobooks. The only thing is that for a lot of these books – I’m more or less surprised about the contents of the books. I picked them months ago, and since they’re basically just on playlists on my iPod in the car, I have no visual cues about what methodology I had gone through to pick the books.

Regardless, I thought I would start writing reviews about the books after I listen to them. I’m a few books behind, so I’ll have to get started quickly. The reviews won’t be in order, or most likely, they’ll be in order from most recent to not so recent.