Category Archives: Events

360iDev Austin (in tweets)

On “episode 35 of Core Intuition”:http://www.coreint.org/2010/11/episode-35-wrap-it-up-in-cocoa/ I mentioned attending the 360iDev conference, and we brought it up again on the next show while plugging 360MacDev. I had a great time at the conference and hope to attend another one in the future.

The best part was meeting all the iPhone developers who I’ve never crossed paths with, and catching up with others I’d only met briefly before. iPhone developers come from a mix of places, from old Mac developers to web developers to traditional mobile or game developers. While there’s a risk that having so many small regional conferences will fragment the community, this concentrated group of mostly iPhone-only developers made for a great few days of sessions and discussion.

And my main concern leading into the conference — that the hotel location would make it difficult for people to head downtown or see other parts of Austin — turned out to be mostly a non-issue. I had a great time hanging out with everyone in the evening, and hope some of you will be back for SXSW.

I used Tweet Library to “collect about 120 tweets from attendees”:http://www.tweetlibrary.com/manton/360idevaustin at the conference: reaction to sessions, quotes, speaker slide URLs, dinner out, and more. Capturing an event like this is why I built the app. What you had for dinner isn’t interesting by itself, but in context it is powerful because it tells a story.

Was Macworld worth it?

As I “wrote in January”:http://www.manton.org/2010/01/macworld_expo_2010.html, I decided to go to Macworld to show off Clipstart and Wii Transfer, and to experience the conference again and hang out with friends. I ended up doing less of the latter, because I lost my voice and was feeling terrible for a couple days, but nevertheless the trip was great and I’m very glad I went. Worth it.

Here’s my summary of the show, what it took for me to be there and what I got out of it for “Riverfold”:http://www.riverfold.com/. This is supposed to be in the spirit of “Rogue Amoeba’s excellent series on Macworld”:http://www.rogueamoeba.com/utm/2007/01/16/should-i-exhibit-at-macworld-part-1-costs/, but more from a super-tiny company perspective, and just where my experience differs.

I do want to quickly mention costs, since that’s the primary consideration when planning these things. I took advantage of the Indie Developer Spotlight shared kiosk to keep investment low. In fact, I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. I kept the whole trip to about $2700, with a rough breakdown like:

$1250 – space on the show floor

$900 – hotel for 4 nights

$250 – flights to and from San Francisco

$100 – printed “2000 flyers”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/manton/4326331440/

$200 – other misc costs, cabs, and food

I could have saved some money in there on the hotel, but in general I think I did pretty well. For a lot indies it’s probably not that much different than a WWDC trip.

flyers_ollie.png I worked 8 hours each day on my feet at Moscone North, in my little booth space in the very corner of the expo. I was lucky for two things: Guy English was awesome and covered for me a couple times so I could take a real break; and the restrooms and water fountain were so close I could slip away when traffic was slow and be back without missing much.

The less expensive booth option was supposed to be for a table shared between 3 developers, with presumably a dozen or more small companies filling the area. But unlike the iPhone pavilion in the center of the tradeshow, which was packed with exhibitors, hardly any Mac developers took advantage of this offer. It was just me and one other company.

This was disappointing at first, since a less dense area doesn’t convey the same excitement and means less foot traffic. But there were other aspects of the deal that turned out better than expected, such as included wired internet even though none was originally promised. Compared to a traditional booth, it was a bargain.

Before leaving Austin for San Francisco I jotted down a few notes on how I could measure success, since I didn’t want to pin whether it was worth it just to direct sales.

See friends and meet new people. Check, but there were a lot of people that I ran into very briefly and didn’t get to really talk to. See aforementioned lost voice.

Get ideas from customers. Check, got plenty of great ideas. I loved talking to random Mac people, not limited to just the ones who bother to send email.

Figure out how to sell the product. There’s nothing like explaining your application over and over again all day to refine your pitch. I feel like I have a much better handle on this, but there’s still work to do, and web sites to update.

Actually sell some copies. I used a coupon code to track sales. During the conference my sales were flat, but in the weeks since I’ve had the best sales days of Clipstart ever.

Get exposure in the press. Check, was interviewed by Ryan Ritchey for “The Digital Lifestyle”:http://thedigitallifestyle.tv/home/2010/2/12/wii-transfer-at-macworld-2010.html, Merlin Mann for “MacBreak Video”:http://www.pixelcorps.tv/macbreak301, and talked with other members of the press on the show floor. I should have done more but lacked the energy.

Win best of show award. Nope, but wasn’t expecting it. I think it’s a shame that only one Mac application won, but on the flip side it’s great that it was “Inklet”:http://tenonedesign.com/inklet.php. Really cool app.

Everyone’s expectations coming into the event were low — the previous exhibitors who backed out, the attendees who wrote Macworld off, and the press who questioned the show’s relevance. But clearly Macworld 2010 was a success. The second day of the expo I was late to the show floor, arriving just a few minutes before they opened the hall. There was a huge mass of people waiting to get in.

There will be a Macworld 2011. I’m really excited to see how it works to move the whole expo and conference to Moscone West. I’m not sure if I’ll be there yet, since as demonstrated this year I can’t plan nearly that far in advance. Throwing all of this together 2 weeks before the show only worked because of everyone who made things a little easier during the week.

Thanks to Jason Snell, Merlin Mann, Adam Lisagor, and everyone else who stopped by and waited patiently through my demos; also Guy English, Paul Kafasis, David Barnard, John Fox, John Chaffee, the RogueSheep guys, my booth buddies from “Hello Chair”:http://hellochair.com/appsaurus/, and the other indie developers I’m forgetting; and especially Albert McMurry, Dan Moren, and John Gruber for telling people about Clipstart. It succeeds only because of word of mouth.

In closing… Maybe it’s because James Cameron is still in the news, but I’ve always loved this line from the character Rose in Titanic: “It doesn’t make any sense. That’s why I trust it.”

That’s mostly how I felt about exhibiting at Macworld. Even though it was “cheap” by tradeshow standards, for me it was real money and a risk. I booked my flight the day I realized that the only reason not to go was because I could fail.

Check in here

I started this blog exactly 8 years ago today, right before SXSW, so I thought I’d post about something related to the event. This year Gowalla and Foursquare are going to be huge. I was a little late to the location-based game party, initially being turned off by Foursquare when it asked for my phone number just to register, but over the last 6 months I’ve been thoroughly enjoying using Gowalla.

“Jeff Croft has a detailed breakdown”:http://jeffcroft.com/blog/2010/mar/08/foursquare-versus-gowalla-round-two/ of the differences between Gowalla and Foursquare:

“Gowalla is capable of having spots which are not addressable, and which are very precise points on the Earth’s surface. This, again, points to its geocaching nature. You can create a spot for that really wicked tree in your favorite park, or your mailbox, or the trash dumpster where your favorite bum spends most of his days.”

This is one of Gowalla’s best features. I also prefer its design, and the playful personality they’ve baked into the app. While I agree with Jeff that there doesn’t need to be one winner, I’m not interested in checking in with more than one application every time I visit a spot, so I use Gowalla exclusively. And because I have friends at Gowalla, I want them to succeed.

My message to Foursquare users who are coming into town for SXSW: Gowalla is an Austin-based company and they are “doing fun stuff for SXSW”:http://gowalla.com/sxsw. Why not give Gowalla a try for the weekend?

Macworld Expo 2010

I haven’t been to a Macworld since the late 90s. I’ve had it in my head for a couple years that I’d like to go back, but with so many developer-focused conferences it’s been hard to justify an extra trip for Macworld. At the same time, my “indie apps”:http://www.riverfold.com/ need a nice marketing refresh. So why not exhibit at Macworld and get to see the show again while reaching a new audience of potential customers?

I knew I’d regret it this year if I didn’t take advantage of the “small indie pavilion kiosk”:http://macworldexpo.com/indiespotlight. So with frighteningly little planning so far, I’ve booked the expo, flights, and hotel. I’ll be at the show and I’ll be demoing the just-released Wii Transfer 2.7 and the unannounced Clipstart 1.3. The rest of the details… not so clear.

But I’m pretty excited about the conference and hope to see many of you there. The expo runs February 11th – 13th, and you can “get a free expo pass here”:http://rcsreg.com/macworld/AMU29713.

Indie Relief

It was “just last week”:http://www.coreint.org/2010/01/episode-25-maybe-its-a-deprecated-thing/ that we mentioned “Today 2.0”:http://www.secondgearsoftware.com/today/ from Second Gear on the Core Intuition podcast, and now Justin Williams at Second Gear is making news again by organizing Mac developers to donate to charity in the wake of the Haiti earthquake.

I’m happy to announce that Riverfold is participating. Since my wife and I already gave to the Red Cross, I decided to donate my sales to “Save the Children”:http://www.savethechildren.net/, an international organization working in Haiti now. It’s amazing how many Mac and iPhone developers have come together for Indie Relief, and great that we are able to do something that reaches more charities and has a bigger impact than if we were all just making individual contributions.

So if you’ve been on the fence about whether you need Wii Transfer or Clipstart, “buy a copy today”:http://www.riverfold.com/. Thanks!

MDN Community Award

“The MDN Show episode 16”:http://www.mac-developer-network.com/shows/podcasts/mdnshow/mdn016/ reveals the winner of the MDN Community Award: a tie between Matt Gemmell and Jonathan “Wolf” Rentzsch, with Mike Ash as runner-up. Looking back on 2009 there should be no surprise over these top three. Matt has been sharing great code with the community for years and is now a fixture of the MDN podcast; Wolf started the successful C4 conference and won a Macworld Eddy for ClickToFlash; and Mike Ash has packed more technical information into a year of his weekly Q&A series than would fit in many Mac programming books.

(This also seems like a good time to link to nominee Daniel Jalkut, who got “his own version of a community award”:http://www.red-sweater.com/blog/1074/payback-time last month.)

I had a tough time singling out a specific developer among a dozen or more fantastic people, many who I consider my friends. But for me it was an opportunity to reflect on something at C4 that I didn’t get a chance to write about earlier, and since he won anyway I’ll include the email I sent to Scotty here.

“There are so many worthy candidates for the “MDN Community Award”:http://www.mac-developer-network.com/news/mdn-community-award-2009-update-the-nominations-so-far/ — people who are helpful to the Mac developer community by writing books, blogging, and sharing code — but when I heard about this award I thought about leadership. My pick is Jonathan ‘Wolf’ Rentzsch.

“A leader sets the tone and attitude of the community. For example, at the C4 conference when some attendees used the Twitter backchannel to turn against and openly mock a presenter, Wolf shamed the audience instead of glossing over or ignoring the event. It was a community course-correction and a reminder that Mac OS X developers come from many different backgrounds: old-school classic Mac programmers, NeXT developers, Linux and Windows users, even designers and web application developers.

“The community went through a rough transition point migrating to Mac OS X over 10 years ago, and is in the middle of another transition to embrace everyone excited about the iPhone platform. What I learned from Wolf is that we should never be afraid to welcome ‘outsiders’ to the community even if they haven’t yet caught up on the history and conventions of the platform.”

I have nothing but great things to say about everyone listed on the MDN page. Congrats again to Matt, Wolf, Mike, and the rest of the nominees.

Macworld 2009

I liked today’s Macworld keynote. In many ways it was a return to pre-iPhone keynotes, with a few good announcements but nothing crazy earth-shatteringly amazing how-can-we-ever-top-this-again. Solid upgrade to iLife. Good news on iTunes. Impressive battery life on the refreshed 17-inch MacBook Pro.

At first I was worried that new versions of iPhoto and iMovie would obsolete my new app before its 1.0 even ships, but I think I’ve narrowly escaped the knife.

“Ryan at 37signals had this to say”:http://www.37signals.com/svn/posts/1507-iphoto-09-and-domain-language about iPhoto ’09:

“Now iPhoto ’09 has kicked their language up a notch further. In addition to Events there are also Faces and Places. Apple has made a few new slices into the photo organization cake, and they’ve opened up a new field of possibilities for people to find and enjoy their photos.”

The new iPhoto does look amazing, but I’m not convinced that adding these new concepts improves the usability of the app significantly. Even in iPhoto ’08, it’s not often clear when to use an Event vs. an Album. Tagging in Flickr and other popular web apps has proven that a fast, generic one-size-fits-all approach to categorizing can not only work, but is more flexible and requires less mental overhead to churn through images, movies, or what have you.

C4[2]

There will be many C4 wrap-up blog posts, but “Fraser Speirs hit the spirit of the conference”:http://speirs.org/2008/09/08/c42-brain-dump/ very well:

“I thought C4 was incredibly reflective. If you imagine it as a smaller WWDC, it’s really nothing like that. The amount of code shown on-screen is really quite small, and the conversation is really about the art, craft, business, science and lifestyle of Mac development.”

I had a great time at C4. As always I met a bunch of new folks and caught up with everyone I hadn’t seen since WWDC or the previous C4. It was especially wonderful to hear the positive feedback about “Core Intuition”:http://www.coreint.org/ in person. Thanks!

I also participated from the stage, as Wolf called me up to be on Saturday night’s panel literally minutes before it started. I have a feeling I came off as a bit of an oddball — I managed to shrug off software pirates, decry moving away from Subversion, suggest a “crap” label for the App Store, and actually recommend Dreamhost — but I hope there was value in it for attendees, even if it was less exciting than last year’s panel. Wil Shipley did a great job guiding questions for the panel.

For a view into what the conference was like, “check out the C4 Flickr pool”:http://www.flickr.com/groups/c4-2/pool/.

WWDC 2008 wrap-up

Yes, this post is a month and a half late. I could probably just re-post what I wrote in 2007 and it would almost pass for this year’s WWDC review. Just insert more iPhone and more beer.

Instead of a formal write-up, I wanted to piece together the week from Twitter posts, but that proved tedious enough that I had to write a little app to help me out. I started by adding my own relevant tweets for WWDC week, then threw in a dozen people I follow and selectively picked the tweets that were significant or about events for which I didn’t directly post.

So here you go. How I remembered WWDC 2008, in 95 tweets.

manton: Totally forgot about partitioning my MacBook for potential 10.6, but (surprise!) it’s still partitioned from last time. Now packing. Sat 06:14 PM

manton: Woke 20 minutes before my alarm. Making coffee for my taxi driver / wife. Sun 03:52 AM

manton: Migas in AUS while waiting for my plane to get here. As usual arrived way too early. Sun 06:26 AM

manton: I brought a Wiimote with me for testing and the lights are blinking. Suddenly paranoid about Bluetooth on planes, so taking batteries out. Sun 06:28 AM

manton: San Diego airport. Slightly delayed flight. Never been here but it looks like the worst place for a layover. Sun 10:15 AM

manton: Landed at SFO. Sun 01:08 PM

willie: bart Sun 01:25 PM

manton: Still surprised to run into other devs in person. Almost adjusted from online to real world. Sun 03:03 PM

duncan: Bumped into @willie @manton and @phi Sweet!!!!! Sun 03:39 PM

dmoren: en route to sfMacIndie via Moscone West… Sun 05:16 PM

brentsimmons: At Jillian’s — Tommy’s next. Sun 07:45 PM

dmoren: chilling with @clint and @ejacqui. I do not know where in SF they have taken me. Hope I make it to the keynote tomorrow. Sun 08:38 PM

bmf: Tommy’s’d! http://snipurl.com/2en8i Sun 10:47 PM

ccgus: chiefton! Sun 11:34 PM

gruber: Fucking-A, @nevenmrgan, @seoulbrother, @manton, not a bad scene at all. Mon 12:21 AM

danielpunkass: I’m so not going to Denny’s. I am at home away from home in my sweet friends’ guest room. Final tweets then good night. Mon 02:21 AM

rtmfd: Running on fumes, tequila fumes. Mon 06:35 AM

manton: Set my alarm for 9am. Woke at 7 with the sun streaming through the windows. Aeiii. Mon 07:34 AM

chockenberry: I will be happy to demo [REDACTED] apps during WWDC. You can touch it. Mon 08:07 AM

manton: And I’m in. Mon 09:53 AM

moonshark: in the WWDC keynote, good view considering the crowds Mon 09:56 AM

atomicbird: Al Gore is here Mon 10:02 AM

gruber: Holy shit $199 for 8GB Mon 11:48 AM

twelvelabs: Happy to finally get to see several months of my work shared with the rest of the world. Mon 12:07 PM

manton: Apple published a Snow Leopard press release before even showing developers? Not cool. Mon 01:28 PM

manton: Graphics and Media, don’t let us down. I’m hovering dangerously between disappointed and satisfied from this morning and early afternoon. Mon 04:58 PM

brentsimmons: Heading for buzz’s party. Mon 06:57 PM

manton: Dinner and good "best of the day" discussion with @willie, @moonshark, and work folks. Heading to Buzz party. Mon 08:31 PM

manton: Choosing sleep. Tue 12:24 AM

manton: Forget 3G, forget GPS. You know what I would pay $199 for? Flagging messages in MobileMail. Tue 12:35 AM

buzz: Well, I think we can call the party a success. Tue 12:45 AM

manton: Guessed i picked the wrong session. Mostly new people based on the show of hands. Tue 10:40 AM

manton: Session hopping is much better than seeing yet another intro to Xcode demo. Tue 11:07 AM

ashponders: @manton is not carrying anything today. I am jealous. Tue 11:24 AM

manton: iPhone view controllers. Nice thing about only playing with the SDK a little is that I’ll learn more this week. Tue 01:43 PM

brentsimmons: CocoaHeads tonight. 7-9 Apple Store. Presentations + Q&A. Tue 01:59 PM

manton: Almost the end of day 2, and I’m not sick of the iPhone yet. Tue 04:46 PM

manton: W too busy. Grabbing quick noodles at Metreon before CocoaHeads. Tue 06:30 PM

louielouie: At CocoaHeads WWDC – getting to hear about Objective-J first-hand woohoo Tue 07:05 PM

ccgus: I just realized I didn’t demo acorn in my pres Tue 07:45 PM

brentsimmons: Heading to Ars party. Tue 09:21 PM

manton: Good presentations at CocoaHeads. Outside full Ars party wondering what’s next. Tue 09:43 PM

brentsimmons: Tempest. Yest. Tue 11:31 PM

macdevnet: Back from Cocoaheads and Ars Party, I think I’m getting to old for this. Great to spend some time getting to know @manton though Wed 12:10 AM

manton: Why can’t I sleep in? This is annoying. It’s as if my kids are here virtually, waking me up across time zones. Wed 07:14 AM

manton: Pixar session is always good, got in early. Wonder what @SenorDanimal is up to. Wed 12:06 PM

ccgus: I lost manton Wed 12:08 PM

manton: Push stuff is elegant, but the team doesn’t seem to understand the scale of what they are building. Wed 03:04 PM

manton: Grand Central Dispatch. Cool stuff. Looking forward to randomly using blocks a lot before the fun wears off. Wed 04:06 PM

manton: Apple Design Awards. I didn’t enter, so I’m almost relaxed. Good luck to all. Wed 07:33 PM

willie: At ADA. We didnt enter because our lack of superfluous shiny technologies Wed 07:37 PM

manton: Congrats to @nevenmrgan on the ADA win! Wed 08:09 PM

manton: Twitterific won! Congrats @chockenberry, well deserved. Wed 08:14 PM

atomicbird: Best iPhone productivity app: OmniFocus Wed 08:15 PM

manton: Going to stay for at least part of Stump to support @willie‘s addiction. Wed 08:50 PM

manton: I don’t usually sit this close to the front. Scared. Wed 09:05 PM

willie: Involved in 2 stump points for the crowd this year. Rock. James Brown and the Quadra 840av. Wed 10:15 PM

manton: A surprising number of people I know are winning Stump t-shirts this year. Wed 10:28 PM

brentsimmons: At chieftain. 5th and Howard. Wed 10:47 PM

brentsimmons: Tempest now, folks. Thu 01:02 AM

manton: Using the iPod dock in the hotel room. Strange, but the first time I’ve actually ever used a radio dock. Sounds good! Thu 07:57 AM

manton: Wish there were Apple t-shirt sizes between kids 7 and adult small. Preferably in pink. Thu 09:48 AM

manton: Sitting in on Advanced Ajax for a change of pace. Thu 10:20 AM

manton: Typing lyrics into Google on iPhone to expand my WWDC music playlist. Thu 10:29 AM

manton: @atomicbird Tom Dowdy. It was a great tribute. Thu 10:36 AM

manton: Wasn’t going to see Dinosaurs, but intrigued after hearing a better description. Thu 12:26 PM

manton: Just passed @schwa talking enthusiastically to a trash can. Then noticed the earbuds. Thu 03:34 PM

manton: Debugging with WebKit session. Inspector just keeps getting better. Still like CSSEdit, buy may use it less. Thu 04:01 PM

danmessing: Apple bash time. Thu 06:48 PM

gruber: Thirsty Bear with Buzz Andersen and other malfeasants. Thu 09:05 PM

buzz: Drinking a Golden Vanilla beer with assorted Mac noteables at the Thirsty Bear. Thu 09:16 PM

willie: Barenaked Ladies – http://snaptweet.com/20fd8 Thu 10:09 PM

moonshark: Bare Naked Ladies – Apple WWDC Bash – http://snaptweet.com/3d7d5 Thu 10:11 PM

dmoren: totally just film-geeked out with @nevenmrgan. Hitchcock, bitches. Thu 11:23 PM

brentsimmons: Heading to Tempest. Thu 11:56 PM

danielpunkass: Tempest tonight was perfect crowd. Could have used several more hours of that scenario. ‘Tis a shame. Fri 02:27 AM

bmf: Dan M. wrote the "e" and ate the shit out of some toast. Fri 03:01 AM

danielpunkass: I got my ride home thanks to @manton‘s cab allowance. Thanks! Fri 03:06 AM

manton: Last WWDC session. It’s been a great week but can’t wait to be home. Fri 01:58 PM

manton: Dropped my badge at the hotel and going to wonder around. To everyone I missed saying goodbye to: safe travels and seeya next time! Fri 03:17 PM

manton: @brentsimmons @rtmfd I’m going to take a raincheck on last drinks until the next conference, need to go shopping. Was good to hang out. Fri 03:30 PM

manton: The Ms Pac-man in the W lobby doesn’t need quarters. Fun. Fri 03:43 PM

manton: Visiting the Cartoon Art Museum. Fri 04:04 PM

manton: Walking to Chinatown in search of gifts. Fri 05:24 PM

manton: Walking back to the hotel using the longest possible route. Feel very relaxed. Fri 06:08 PM

duncan: Taking @willie @manton @phi Daniel and crew to Luce. Oh yeah. Celebration of a long week. Fri 07:01 PM

willie: dining with @pinar @duncan @moonshark @manton & others. Good times. Fri 07:23 PM

willie: Pantade – http://snaptweet.com/dc8bd Fri 07:41 PM

willie: Bisque – http://snaptweet.com/d901c Fri 07:41 PM

ccgus: A great WWDC photo set: http://tinyurl.com/5rtwpu Fri 08:33 PM

willie: Study of Chocolate – http://snaptweet.com/04f07 Fri 08:41 PM

danielpunkass: I’m committing to never beat myself up again for missing lots of sessions at WWDC. The social contacts are priceless and inspirational. Fri 09:45 PM

manton: Great dinner with the work folks + @duncan, @pinarozger, and Daniel Steinberg (no twit?). @willie has the food photos. Fri 10:08 PM

manton: And that’s it. Catching a taxi to SFO. WWDC review: worst keynote, best conference week. Sat 06:27 AM

manton: Landed in Austin. Pretty funny flight crew made the trip back easier. Sat 01:31 PM

STAPLE! in Austin today (year 4)

Like independent comics and art? “STAPLE! is in Austin today”:http://www.staple-austin.org/ at the Monarch Event Center, off I-35 and 2222. I’ve been on the STAPLE! planning committee for four years now and have enjoyed watching our little show grow from its humble beginnings, but it’s still a completely non-profit, volunteer-led endeavor and we need your support to make it a success. Come join us anytime between 11am and 7pm (or “check the schedule”:http://www.staple-austin.org/guests/ for our featured session times), and then come back downtown later tonight for the after-party and live-art show at Red’s Scoot Inn (“flyer”:http://www.staple-austin.org/promote/staple2008_afterparty.jpg).

iPhone – it’s from the future

That’s the way I described the iPhone to anyone I showed it off to over the weekend. The thing is amazing. Easily the most advanced and beautiful UI that we have ever seen on a portable device.

I waited outside the Apple Store most of Friday to get an iPhone, and it contrasted very favorable with “my experience camping out for the Wii”:http://www.manton.org/2006/11/nintendo_wii_purchase.html. The 6pm sale time decision was a smart one. It turns out waiting in line all day wasn’t necessary, but for anyone who had to have one on day 1 it was the safest choice, and it makes for a fun community. I ran into a bunch of people I knew and met new folks as well. Enjoyed catching up with “Donna Kidwell”:http://www.gamermom.com/ and had a chance to chat at length with Jeremy Derr of “Barton Springs Software”:http://www.bssware.com/.

“Damon YouTubed the line”:http://damonclinkscales.com/past/iphone-line-at-the-apple-store-the-domain/ in the early afternoon and by 6pm the line was roughly 250 people. We were in the low 40s and were in and out of the Apple Store in 15 minutes. They ran a great launch. Also a nice assortment of free water, tea, pizza, and coffee from both Apple and surrounding businesses. “Here’s a shot of me”:http://flickr.com/photos/digitalnomad/697023122/ from Damon’s Flickr stream.

iPhone line

Here are my posts to Twitter throughout the day, which also show part of the story:

6:34am: Good morning iPhone Day! Weather forecast in Austin for today: 40% chance of showers and storms.

10:15am: It’s only 10am but already realized I need to go to Plan B. Bribe friends already in line to use their 2nd iPhone purchase.

11:09am: Change of plans. Heading to the Apple Store now to join in the line-waiting fun. Will it be too late?”

12:26pm: I expected rain, but that seems unlikely. It’s hot like a real Austin summer here in the iPhone line.

2:32pm: Hanging out in The Line with Jeremy of Barton Springs Software and @damon. Apple Store is closed. Had some lunch and a Starbucks soy latte.

4:03pm: 2 hours left. We can redeem our free Starbucks coffee coupons now. Excited! (About the iPhone. Not the coffee.)

6:30pm: Got my iPhone.

7:35pm: Activation will have to wait. Ratatouille.

8:18pm: Movies all sold out. Pre-activation dinner at Kerby Lane instead.

9:53pm: Activation took less than a minute. Also, no plan choice. Just $20 added on to what I already pay, I guess.

Other reviews around the web:

“Matt Haughey”:http://a.wholelottanothing.org/2007/07/01/24-hours-with-the-iphone-my-dream-mini-computer/: “So in conclusion, the iPhone is nice from start to finish, but Safari is really the thing that turns it from a phone into a mini-laptop. Once I get more used to two-thumb typing, the last limitations that keep it from feeling like a real computer will be gone.”

“Scott Stevenson”:http://theocacao.com/document.page/488: “I usually don’t get too into pop culture events, but this is different. The Mac is going mainstream in a big way.”

“Ryan Irelan”:http://www.ryanirelan.com/past/2007/07/01/apple-iphone-brilliant-device-horrendous-activation/: “I probably tried out the emergency call slider three dozen times. I wonder if anyone actually called 911 because their phone wasn’t activating quickly enough.”

“Steven Frank”:http://stevenf.com/2007/07/the_official_stevenf_iphone_review.php: “Best phone ever. And given the rest of the industry’s generally pervasive cluelessness about pretty much everything, I don’t expect it to be surpassed by anything until the iPhone 2.”

“John Gruber”:http://daringfireball.net/2007/06/iphone_first_impressions: “Overall day one impression: the iPhone is 95 percent amazing, 5 percent maddening. I’m just blown away by how nice it is – very thoughtful UI design and outstanding engineering.”

WWDC 2007 in one post

Moof Along with most of our house, my office is packed up and ready to move this week. The photo to the right is of one of the handful of items in a box labeled “Manton’s desk,” or, if someone else had her way, “Random junk Manton saves to remember the past but which should really be in the trash can.”

It’s unopened Moof beer from WWDC 1996, my first WWDC. At 20 I was too young to drink, but I probably would have saved it anyway. That was back when Apple gave you cool stuff and not just another cheap laptop bag.

This year’s WWDC will probably go down as one of my favorites. The keynote was a bit dull, but it was offset by the reality that Leopard is a mature and usable system. I have been running all my primary apps off of it since last week, including Mail.app, NetNewsWire 3.0, and Xcode.

I couldn’t place the feeling at the time, but now I realize that last week’s sessions were, in a way, relaxing. There was no sense of urgency. Most of the sessions I attended were practical, full of hands-on advice for preparing for Leopard and many applicable to Tiger development as well. I got a lot out of the week, and when I decided to skip out on Friday it didn’t feel like the world would come crashing down because of it.

James Morrison Other highlights of WWDC 2007 were away from the sessions: walking Chinatown with Willie on Sunday in search of the illusive bakery item; hitting the SF Mac Indie party that night and hanging out with fellow developers afterwards; Buzz Andersen’s party Monday, catching up with Lane and the host; the Dan Benjamin annual breakfast; Apple Design Awards on Tuesday, which had a record number of wins for apps I’ve actually used; accidentally walking into a James Morrison concert at the Apple Store (left photo); being interviewed by Scott McNulty of TUAW, though I secretly hope they will decide not to air it; enjoying great Italian with the VitalSource team on Wednesday before catching the tail end of CocoaHeads; plus the Apple Bash and more drinks and discussion Thursday night.

Like at SXSW earlier this year, Twitter proves both cool and useful. I was lucky enough to meet many of the people on my Twitter friends list for the first time last week.

Of course it wasn’t all fun and games. I sifted through more legitimate Bookshelf bug reports than usual; I was exhausted pretty much every day; and there were a couple developers I had hoped to seek out that I just never made the time to.

All in all, though, a good week and now I’m ready to get back to coding.

TwitterConf 2007

It’s been over a week since SXSW Interactive wrapped up, and I can’t bring myself to post anything interesting about it. Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time. But I missed more sessions than usual this year (I’m trying to ship software here!), skipped half the parties (Traci was sick all weekend), and I didn’t notice any big themes that unified the conference.

Except Twitter. Which just underscores that it is about the people, and what they are doing, and being inspired.

I had a great time meeting new folks and catching up with old acquaintances: talking independent Mac development with Buzz Andersen and Justin Miller; software pricing with John Gruber; Rails and cities with Jamie Stephens and Sergio Rabiela; bumping into old school Mac web guys Carl de Cordova, Raines Cohen, Bill Christensen, and Wes Felter; co-workers and former co-workers Damon Clinkscales and Ryan Irelan respectively; lunch in a pub as a storm came down with Austinites Ben and Sara Brumfield; seeing my old friend John Brauer from high school who needs to email me (hint!); and finally meeting Shaun Inman and a bunch of other people whose names I can’t recall at the moment and whose business cards are buried somewhere, but no one is quite sure where.

My only regret is that there were a few people I wanted to say hi to that I literally saw from a distance on the first day of the conference and then never saw again. Maybe they took the wrong escalator and are still trapped in the void of that 3rd floor.

Of all the kajillion SXSW posts that have come through my fresh not-even-a-beta copy of NetNewsWire, I liked “Peter Merholtz’s write-up”:http://www.peterme.com/?p=533 the best:

“What I realized, and what I need to do if I return to SXSW, is that in order to enjoy what SXSW Interactive has become (and boy, has it changed since 1999) I have to take a more Zen-like approach, ignoring all the Things I Could Be Doing, and focus on simply getting the most out of whatever I Am Doing.”

Seeya next year.

Weblog 5th Year

Ten minutes until midnight as I type this. I started this blog 5 years ago. There have been just 329 posts in those 5 years, but there are some good ones in there. One thing I’ve noticed is that over the years I’ve switched from collecting links and providing short commentary, to more thoughtful longer posts. I’m hoping in this next year to go back to more of the earlier style.

My weblog anniversary also means that “SXSW”:http://www.sxsw.com/ is starting. I don’t plan to blog this weekend, but will instead be updating through “my Twitter account”:http://twitter.com/manton. To be honest I’m not sure what to expect from this year’s conference. I’m looking forward to a few sessions, but with RailsConf and WWDC and another work trip all lined up for the coming few months, I’m feeling a little conferenced-out before I’ve even begun.

Here are the previous anniversary posts: “2006”:http://www.manton.org/2006/03/mediocrity_is_the.html, “2005”:http://www.manton.org/2005/03/year_three.html, “2004”:http://www.manton.org/2004/03/two_years.html, “2003”:http://www.manton.org/2003/03/at_sxsw.html, and “2002”:http://www.manton.org/2002/03/sxsw.html.

Also checked out the new Apple Store at The Domain today, which is a couple miles from my house. Was 250th in line without really trying, and the weather was nice enough to work under the oak trees outside Starbucks. Took pictures with my camera phone which I don’t have the energy to post right now. Tonight I headed back downtown for the opening of “Jason Chalker’s”:http://manlyart.blogspot.com/ art show.

San Francisco walk

It’s Sunday before day 1 of WWDC 2006. Willie and I took a walk this afternoon, down Market Street to the bay, following the water around to Pier 39, then up Lombard and meandering through quiet San Francisco back streets until we come through the middle of Chinatown and back to the hotel. Along the way I recorded some pieces of audio, hoping I could use them for a podcast I’m preparing about the city. Willie snapped pictures, almost all of which came out looking really good. I like this one of me trying to get the sound from underneath the cable car track.

I accidentally left the MiniDisc recorder going for a part of our trek, wasting a bunch of disc time. The UI is so bad on these devices that I don’t know how to cut out just part of a track, so I went off searching for a new disc. Over lunch Daniel Steinberg had showed me his M-Audio, which I had considered earlier and now pretty much regret not purchasing. Maybe I’ll eBay the MiniDisc recorder at some point.

Tomorrow morning is the keynote.

WWDC 2006 coming up

“John Siracusa rants a bit”:http://arstechnica.com/staff/fatbits.ars/2006/7/21/4727 about the lack of access to WWDC for non-attendees. I agree that the session DVDs, sample code, and other resources should be made available to everyone. But there is so much to the conference that can’t be bottled up for later.

I have been extremely lucky to have been able to attend WWDC for each of the last 5 years with “VitalSource”:http://www.vitalsource.com/, and a few years off and on before that. I think my first WWDC was 1996, which also makes next week my 10th anniversary of attending.

1996 was “Copland”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copland, the middle of the dark years for Apple. It was strange to be a Mac developer back then, to stay optimistic in the face of a barrage of bad press. I think it helped that I was “part of a small team”:http://www.purity.com/ that was passionate about this stuff. We couldn’t imagine building Windows software, although we did dabble in BeOS pretty extensively.

So, on to my hopes for this year. First, I have no idea what will be in Leopard. Like many people, I hope for some Finder improvements and an effort to bring the fragmented window and control types back together. I also assume that Leopard will have nice new features, and that those features will have developer APIs to go along with them.

Second, for the last couple of years I’ve believed that a Mac tablet is forthcoming. Tiger introduced two core pieces to this: handwriting recognition and portrait mode. “Patent rumors”:http://www.macsimumnews.com/index.php/archive/buzz_apples_new_accelerometer_patent_reveals_a_stunning_tablet_pc/ continue to hint at such a device. Judging by how many designers and animators have embraced the Windows-based Tablet PCs (for which the hardware mostly still sucks), I think an Apple-designed tablet could be extremely popular. This is the only piece of hardware I would literally buy on day 1.

Going to WWDC? Say “hi” if you see someone who “looks like this”:http://www.manton.org/me/293.jpg.

WWDC 2005 highlights

Briefly, highlights from WWDC include: great Automator, .Mac, and WebKit sessions; time with James Duncan Davidson, Mike Clark, and small chats with Brent Simmons and other developers; seeing the impressive work Rich Kilmer is doing on ActionStep; the Michael Johnson Pixar talk; another software review with John Gelenyse; and hearing The Wallflowers at the Apple Campus Bash. We took 7 people from work this year, so we had a great mix of session coverage (not to mention good restaurant choices). Look forward to next year.

SXSW: Wrap-up

Leaving SXSW I think I noticed two major themes at the conference this year:

Software development. Jason Fried’s talk on small teams set the tone here. Get close to your users, start building the real thing early, and keep it small so you can change easily. In “How to Inform Design”, Jeffrey Veen took part of that one step further. Instead of user-centered design, he strives for self-centered design. If you become the user, you’ll know how to build it.

Thinking about software development approaches — especially when they take an extreme position — is useful to me because you can take those statements and stamp them onto past successes or failures to see whether there is any connection. Many interesting work conversations followed.

Metadata. Tags, folksonomies, and the lowercase semantic web. There were at least four sessions on this topic, from Eric Meyer’s introduction on XHTML-based microformats to the panel of RDF skeptics lead by Matt Haughey. These problems are hard to solve. When I was originally interested in an internet of rich metadata it never occurred to me that the solution might come from the grassroots, a virtual community of taggers bringing structure with nothing more than keywords and a few smart pieces of software.

Ultimately it’s a UI issue. Flickr and Del.icio.us are successful because they make it easy and provide a clear incentive (the ability to find things again). Other distributed metadata initiatives are simple to use because they work within the existing web we know (XHTML and URLs), but we still need applications that will provide that same incentive for users to care. Maybe Rubhub is a start.

SXSW: Simplicity, Ta-da, and XFN

Jason Fried has been talking a lot lately about keeping your product simple. His session on Saturday continued this theme of doing more with less — “constraints encourage creativity.” One example he cites is how Ta-da List’s lack of due dates or responsibility assignment forces people to find a human solution to the problem, often something as simple as appending a date to the to-do item. Later, if patterns emerge in how users are working around true limitations in the software, then that is the time to add an interface and make it a real feature.

Tantek makes a similar point when discussing XFN. Rather than create a complex format that attempted to solve several different problems (some of which may not even exist yet), they simply looked at one thing (blogrolls) and paid particular attention to how users were working around the limitations of a simple list of links. Adding “*” next to people a web site author had met is the same idea as adding a date in the text of a to-do item in the 37signals example. They could then extract the true semantics behind those existing practices into XFN and similar microformats, building on top of XHTML to embrace the way users currently publish for the web.

Tiger Tech Talk

I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I signed up for Apple’s Tiger Tech Talk. It looked like a sort of mini WWDC event, and since the first stop on their tour was here in Austin, it was a no-brainer to sign up. But would it be just a marketing-filled event with little real substance? Or maybe just rehashing of WWDC slides but given by less prominent developers?

I’m happy to report that it was a high-quality event. Apple was represented by such familiar faces as Xavier Legros, John Geleynse, Travis Brown, and George Warner. Extra perks included free continental breakfast (I should have shown up earlier), lunch, dinner appetizers, and drinks. The Tiger compatibility lab had about 10 G5s.

Most of the sessions were essentially repeats from WWDC, but the informal nature of the setting allowed for good questions. Apple said about 120 people registered, and there were four concurrent sessions after the overview talks.

Speaking of Mac developers, Panic describes the history of their Audion product.