Category Archives: Podcasts

Timetable 37

I’m taking some time to resume Timetable recording. From the latest episode:

Now that the Kickstarter campaign has wrapped up, I move to the next phase of getting Micro.blog ready, planning for invites, and focusing on the Slack community.

I started Timetable over a year ago to document what it was like to build Micro.blog and figure out how to launch it. Each episode is about 4-5 minutes long. Reaching this point with the Kickstarter finished is a huge milestone, but there is plenty of work still to do and talk about.

Core Intuition 268

We posted this week’s Core Intuition today, with the latest Apple developer news and a debate on Alexa vs. Siri:

Manton closes in on the last week of his Kickstarter, and Daniel catches up on his progress. They discuss new beta updates from Apple for both Mac and iOS. They react to Apple’s forthcoming review prompting system for iOS, and the ability for developers to respond to reviews on both Mac and iOS. Finally, they debate the merits of Siri vs. Alexa on grounds of reliability and viability as an international, long-term success.

I haven’t kept up with Timetable recordings lately, but hope to do another one before the Kickstarter campaign wraps up too. Thanks for listening.

Core Intuition 267

This week on Core Intuition, Daniel and I talk about the halfway point to my Kickstarter campaign, running ads, and more:

Manton talks about marketing for the Kickstarter, how many people watch the video, and how to transition from marketing the passionate philosophical backers, to making a case for the sheer utility of the product. They talk about modern advertising technology that allows hyper-focused delivery, and follow up on Chris Lattner’s departure from Apple, and the exciting opportunities he will likely have at Tesla.

The last segment of the show is about Chris Lattner going to Tesla. We recorded before we listened to the latest ATP, but our conversation still holds up as pretty relevant. Hope you enjoy it.

Release Notes interview and 2017 conference

I was a guest on the latest episode of Release Notes this week. We talk about the Kickstarter launch of Micro.blog and more:

Today Manton Reece joins us to talk about Micro.blog, the new microblogging service that he’s developing. We talk to Manton about why he thinks a new microblogging service is needed, the importance of owning your own content, and his successful Kickstarter campaign.

Speaking of Release Notes, the conference is coming back for 2017 in a new city: Chicago. I haven’t been to Chicago in years, so I’m excited for an excuse to visit.

I blogged about my time at Release Notes 2015, but never got around to posting thoughts from 2016. In short: it was a great conference. For a snapshot of the talks, see Matthew Bischoff’s slides and Ben Norris’s sketchnotes.

PodSearch

This isn’t the first time that David Smith has built something that I kind of wanted to build myself, too. Today he announced a cool side project for searching podcast audio:

You can easily search for a term or keyword and then play the actual audio back to find if it was the section you were thinking about. I even tag the sections with timecoded Overcast links for easy sharing.

I’d love to see David spin this into either a commercial product or set of free tools. He could host more shows, or let podcasters run their shows through PodSearch and export the results. For example, I’d want this for Core Intuition, along with edited transcripts eventually.

One year of Timetable

I started my microcast Timetable a little over one year ago. I’ve recorded 35 episodes, so fewer than 1 a week. My goal is still 2-3 a week, so hopefully I’ll work up to that for 2017.

This podcast is one of my favorite things to do right now. It’s so much easier to record and publish a 5-minute podcast than a 1-hour podcast. All I need is something to talk about.

Here are the feed descriptions for each episode over the last year, starting with the earliest. Reviewing these provides a neat snapshot into the journey of building Micro.blog. You can subscribe at timetable.fm.

1: On the first episode, I introduce the idea behind the show and the topics I hope to cover.

2: On this episode, I talk about trying tea instead of coffee, how I named this podcast, and my work schedule as I wrap up the week.

3: On this episode, I talk about finishing some work and the new iPhone microphone I bought.

4: This morning I was downtown to work at a coffee shop for a few hours before lunch. I talk about getting out of the house and last night’s icon sketches.

5: Today I stopped at the post office to pick up some stamps to mail stickers for the new microblogging app and platform I’m working on.

6: I start with some thoughts on basketball, my potential Kickstarter campaign, and whether it’s better to start strong or finish strong. (Go Spurs Go!)

7: This morning I was distracted a little with backups, ordering a new hard drive, and thinking about my iOS app, which was just rejected by Apple.

8: Recorded in 3 segments, I set my alarm early this morning to get some coding done before the day starts slipping away.

9: Today I mention the iPhone app rejection, talk about why the iPhone app itself is secondary to the web version, and reveal more about the Kickstarter.

10: I take the iPad Pro and my microphone out to the front porch, to think through what work I need to focus on for today.

11: Back from a sick day or two, I talk today about Twitter’s algorithmic timeline change and why it would be nice to launch a product when your competitor has some bad news.

12: Back from a quick trip to Portland, today I’m thinking about the music for my Kickstarter project.

13: I finally drop the stickers in the mailbox at our neighborhood post office. Thinking this episode about what it means to be lucky.

14: At my 10th new coffee shop in as many days, I write a few blog posts. And on this episode I talk about it.

15: I reflect on 6 months as an indie, think about stealing time for projects, and plan how I can use working from a coffee shop in the morning to provide a better structure to my day.

16: This week I’m thinking back on how Staple! Expo went over the weekend, and why it never helps to panic when something isn’t going perfectly to plan.

17: It’s spring break week, which means the kids are out of school and SXSW is taking over downtown.

18: I’m playing Nintendo’s new iPhone app Miitomo, watching my Mii character pace around the room as he (and I) wait for our iPhone SE delivery. Also talk about the library routine and Rails 5.

19: I finally record a video for my Kickstarter project. Now I just need to edit it and do everything else.

20: I talk about receiving the Loish art book and my current thoughts on Kickstarter goals and rewards.

21: Today I take stock of the last few weeks of client work and recovering from 2 months of focusing so heavily on my personal blog.

22: Last week was stressful. This episode is about being mad at nothing and everything, and why fireflies are magical.

23: I play a clip from the Upgrade podcast and then talk about my struggle to wind down a product correctly.

24: I summarize my week in San Francisco from the perspective of not just the WWDC technical news and events, but also of using the trip to refocus on my priorities for Riverfold Software.

25: Back after a summer break, on this episode I talk through what we can learn from Tim Duncan’s incredible 19-year career.

26: I talk about getting derailed with home repairs, the U.S. presidential election, and writing about the Dash controversy.

27: One week after the election, I react to Apple’s design book announcement and talk about why social networks may be broken.

28: Not enough sleep yet still focused on getting work done. I review today’s blog post and play a clip from the Moana soundtrack.

29: I got a new domain! I talk about the .blog registration process and my evolving plans.

30: From a listener question, I talk about steps in November to wrap up old projects and finish new ones.

31: I try the new WeWork location at the Domain, listen to a singer at the car dealership, and remember that I need to get out to talk to real people about my work.

32: I share some thoughts on the first day of Super Mario Run and how my work week is wrapping up.

33: The morning after Christmas, I give a quick update on Micro.blog plans and Kickstarter’s Launch Now review feature.

34: Happy New Year! I talk about the first day of the year, and the final day to finish my Kickstarter project for Micro.blog.

35: A week after launching the Kickstarter, I talk about its success so far and why I believe I can build Micro.blog, with a clip about optimism from Gary Vaynerchuk.

Core Intuition 262

We published episode 262 of Core Intuition today. It’s December already, so we’ve inevitably been thinking about unfinished projects as the year wraps up. From the show notes:

Daniel and Manton talk about coping with disappointment of failing to achieve goals in an expected length of time, recognize the differing demands of building software for different markets, and talk about tricks for managing lack of enthusiasm for finishing projects. Finally, they answer a listener question about how to get started with consulting, and planning for maintaining a suitable income when you “quit your day job.”

Thanks as always for listening to the show.

Thanks to our Core Int listeners

Yesterday we published episode 260 of Core Intuition. From the show notes:

Daniel and Manton discuss Sal Soghoian’s sudden departure from Apple, and what it may mean for Apple’s future ambitions with automation. Then they react to Apple’s alleged decision to abandon their line of AirPort branded routers, and bemoan the loss of yet another “just buy the Apple one” peripheral option

I liked the topics for our show this week because it allowed us to not just talk about AppleScript as it exists today, but also to reflect on what life developing scriptable apps was like in the early days of AppleScript. It’s always fun to think back on 1990s Mac development.

Many of our listeners are celebrating Thanksgiving today. To all of our listeners, whether you’ve listened since the beginning in 2008 or just recently discovered the podcast, thank you so much for giving our show a chance and for being part of the community. Daniel and I still feel incredibly lucky that we get to chat every week about Apple news and our work as indie developers.

Timetable 27

Today I published a new episode of Timetable. It’s about Apple’s new design book but also about how social networks are broken, with a hint of what I think we can do about it. It’s just 3 and a half minutes long.

As I’ve written about before, Apple no longer needs us to defend the company. On the other hand, many good people work on Apple’s products and so criticizing the company can easily come across as criticizing those people. That’s not my intention, but I sometimes get that balance wrong.

I own dozens and dozens of art books, but I won’t be ordering this new Apple design book. It looks overconfident instead of nostalgic. It looks like it celebrates objects instead of people. It looks like a beautiful book for the wrong time.

Core Intuition 254 and Kapeli wrap-up

On Friday, Daniel and I recorded and published episode 254 of Core Intuition:

Daniel and Manton dive into Apple’s controversial suspension of Dash developer Kapeli’s App Store account, and respond to listener Q&A about whether non-sandboxed apps are at risk of removal from the Mac App Store.

Covering sensitive subjects like Kapeli’a suspension is difficult in a podcast format where you can’t perfectly prepare your thoughts. Did I go too far defending Bogdan Popescu? Did I not go far enough?

Maybe we’ll know with some distance from this topic whether we reacted fairly. But I don’t think I overstated how important a moment this was for the App Store — both Apple’s influence over the narrative and as a test for their power in the store. Unfortunately the story still has a very unsatisfying ending.

Core Intuition 253 and Google

We posted Core Intuition episode 253 this morning. From the show notes:

Manton and Daniel discuss Manton’s experience at the Release Notes conference, talk about the rationale for supporting what might be considered edge-case behaviors in apps, and dig deeper into questions of freemium pricing, reflecting on the Omni Group’s pertinent announcements. Finally they talk briefly about Google’s latest announcements and what their competition means to Apple.

Google must be doing something right with their announcements, because yesterday my son told me he wants to get a Pixel when it’s time to replace his iPhone 5S. And as much as I love our Amazon Echo, I can see Google Home taking off if it’s well-integrated with existing Google services.

Core Intuition 248

This week on Core Intuition, Daniel and I talked about recent Apple news:

Daniel and Manton react to the European Union’s €13B retroactive tax demand to Apple, talk about the impact of tax laws on indies and small companies, and weigh in on Apple’s purported AI and machine learning triumphs. Finally they catch up on their ambitions to be more productive as the busy summer transitions to fall.

I wondered whether Apple is so obsessed with privacy that they are blinded to what is possible with more computation and extensibility in the cloud. I judge their efforts not only by the remarkable work the Siri team has done, and by what Google and Amazon are building, but also by Apple’s own gold standard: the Knowledge Navigator video from 1987. That vision is too ambitious for one company to develop all the pieces for. We eventually need a more open Siri platform to get us there.

Supertop podcast

Everyone who builds blogging software should have a blog. Everyone who builds podcasting software should probably have a podcast, too. (And sometimes, like for Marco Arment, even a few podcasts.)

So I was happy to see Supertop start a podcast recently to talk about the Castro 2 launch and other thoughts on being a 2-person indie shop. Episode 3 features Brent Simmons:

Pádraig and Oisín are joined by Brent Simmons to discuss indie app development in the wake of Vesper shutting down.

One subject I’m glad they touched on is the special challenge for a company that needs to support multiple salaries, but isn’t big enough yet to actually have significant revenue like a large company. Last week, Daniel and I talked about the balance of loving being independent but also knowing that one day you want to expand to support a small team. It’s not easy.

Core Int 242, Swift, and verified Twitter

From the show notes for today’s episode:

Manton reacts to negatively to the Swift 3 decision to disallows subclassing by default, while Daniel tries to see the bright side. The two discuss Twitter’s new invitation to apply for @verified status, and Daniel’s attempt to do so. And they quickly touch base on the upcoming Apple-sponsored reality show, “Planet of the Apps.”

Believe it or not, I was kind of holding back a little in my Swift ranting. But it was the most critical I’ve been on the show. And it’s totally okay for you to disagree! Maybe even good for the platform if you do.

Podcast thoughts on WWDC

I’m back from San Francisco, catching up on everything I missed while traveling. I recorded a few podcast episodes during WWDC week, both my own and an interview.

On Core Intuition, Daniel and I talked right after the keynote about the morning’s announcements. From the show notes:

Manton and Daniel react to the 2016 WWDC keynote. […] iMessage and Siri extensibility, Continuity improvements, Apple Pay for the web, Apple’s keynote diversity, and more.

In the middle of the week, I talked with John Voorhees of MacStories about WWDC news but also a lot about microblogging. It may be the most I’ve shared about my latest project, all in one place.

Yesterday, I recorded a short episode of Timetable. I wanted to capture what the trip to San Francisco each year means to me, outside of the conference itself. I find the week a good opportunity to reset and think about where my focus should be across my projects.

Core Intuition 236 and app subscriptions

We published Core Intuition episode 236 today, discussing the recent App Store announcements and a listener question about offices. We wrap up with plans for WWDC.

There has been a lot of great blog posts and podcast episodes already on the App Store subscription change. I listened to Under the Radar 31 and the Release Notes special edition today and recommend both. The most confusion seems to be around what kind of apps are appropriate for subscriptions, where by “appropriate” I mean “what Apple will approve”.

John Gruber also follows up at Daring Fireball on this question:

Professional apps that require “a lot of maintenance of new features and versions” don’t fit either of those categories. Would Twitter clients like Tweetbot and Twitterrific qualify for subscription pricing? After talking to Schiller yesterday, I thought so. Now, I don’t know.

As I mention on Core Intuition, apps that have a backend service with obvious hosting and maintenance costs — a music streaming service, an invoicing web app, or a blogging platform, for example — are easier for users to understand as needing to be subscriptions. Twitter apps are an interesting example because some are pure clients to Twitter’s backend, but many increasingly have their own app-specific services like timeline syncing or push notifications.

For years Apple has allowed apps to use auto-renewing subscriptions. I had an iPhone app and companion web service that was approved by Apple for auto-renewing subscriptions, after I made the case for the service as a “cloud” archive. From section 11.15 of the App Store review guidelines:

Apps may only use auto-renewing subscriptions for periodicals (newspapers, magazines), business Apps (enterprise, productivity, professional creative, cloud storage), and media Apps (video, audio, voice), or the App will be rejected

From my experience and listening to other developers, I’ve had the impression for a while that Apple would essentially reject most auto-renewing app submissions by default. While we still don’t know what “all categories” means in the new announcement, I expect it means that there will no longer be a kind of blanket rejection. Apple will still reject many apps as poorly suited for subscriptions, though, and maybe that’s okay for now.

(I’m conflicted on this point. John Gruber’s suggestion to approve everything and let the market decide is compelling and fits better with my instinct that the control should be in developers’ hands.)

“Subscription fatigue” is a real thing that I’ll occasionally hear from customers about. No one wants to pay $1/month to 40 different apps and services; it feels like a burden in a way that paying the same total price to just two apps at $20/month does not. Nevertheless, subscriptions are very powerful. Everything I’ve done over the last few years is to position myself to eventually have a recurring-revenue success.

Core Intuition 234 and Vapor

We published Core Intuition 234 today, with a follow-up discussion on Swift, working toward software releases, and more. From the show notes:

Daniel and Manton talk about the question of Swift’s dependence on Objective-C’s dynamism, how it should or will evolve, and their differences in philosophy about Swift and Objective-C. They also take stock of release discipline and managing customer disappointment with an app’s progress. Finally, they talk about the importance and difficulty of winding down old products.

One of the points I brought up on the show — and which I’ve hinted at here on the blog before — is that web developers will push Swift to become more dynamic. There’s a long history of building web server frameworks like Ruby on Rails that depend on dynamically routing requests to controllers and views, and flexible models that automatically adapt from your database schema. These features tend to get messy when faced with a more static, strongly-typed language.

There is good work being done in the Swift web community already, though. Today I spent some time building a sample app with Vapor, which is probably the closest I’ve seen someone get to the usability of existing web frameworks. I’m a little more optimistic now that we might eventually have a single language for server code and native apps.

Listening to Timetable

Because episodes of Timetable are short (usually just 5 minutes) and because they aren’t published on a consistent schedule (sometimes once a week, sometimes 3 times a week), I’ve wondered if it may be difficult for some people to fit the podcast into their routine of listening to longer, hour-long podcasts. If you only listen to podcasts while in the car, for example, a 5-minute show isn’t going to fill your commute.

Luckily there are easy solutions to this. The first is: they are so short, just listen whenever you want, while you’re at your desk or walking somewhere or having lunch. Another option: gather up a few episodes and listen altogether, as if it’s 3 parts of a 15-minute podcast.

If you’re an Overcast user, you can create a playlist that will play multiple Timetable episodes in sequence without requiring any tapping in the app to queue up the next one. Here are some screenshots showing one way to set this up after subscribing to Timetable in Overcast.

First, tap the new playlist button in Overcast. Then tap Add Podcasts and select Timetable.

Overcast screenshots

The playlist should automatically show any unplayed episodes. Finally, tap the Playback button while an episode is playing and make sure to highlight Play Next for the When Episode Ends option. This will make sure that you have continuous playback from one episode to the next.

Overcast screenshots

I’ve recorded 23 episodes of Timetable so far, equal to about 2 hours of audio. While consistency is the most important thing for my other podcasts, Core Intuition and Technical Foul, for Timetable I’ve liked the flexibility to experiment with different styles and show formats. Enjoy!

New Core Int, Technical Foul, and Timetable

I somehow recorded 4 podcast episodes this week. We just published episode 233 of Core Intuition, where Daniel Jalkut and I talk about the announcements from Google I/O and compare the latest Swift 3 news to our experience going through previous Apple transitions. From the show notes:

“Manton and Daniel react to Google’s I/O keynote, and weigh the threat of Allo to iMessage. They celebrate Apple’s WWDC promotion of 3rd party events, and the increasing speed of App Store reviews. Finally, they reflect on the announced delay in Swift 3’s planned ABI stability, and Daniel’s sudden FUD about embracing Swift.”

It was a big week for the NBA, too, with the first couple games of the east and west conference finals. On the latest Technical Foul, Ben Thompson and I recap round 2, especially the Spurs loss in 6 games to the Thunder:

Ben and Manton are back geeking out about the NBA. This week we talk Manton through the Spurs loss, discuss OKC versus the Warriors, and whether the Cavs are good enough.

And finally, I published 2 episodes of my microcast Timetable earlier in the week. Episode 22 was about dealing with recent stress — trying to see the bigger picture and focus on the good things. Episode 23 was about how to tell when it’s time to move on from a failed product.

Podcasting lock-in and the lesson from Penn Station

When my family was visiting New York City a couple of years ago, we took a train out of Pennsylvania Station on the way up to Montreal for the second half of our vacation. It was raining a little as we walked from the hotel, but I thought we’d still have no trouble finding the station. After a few minutes we gave up and had to ask someone where the entrance was.

We couldn’t find it because it looked like every other street corner in Manhattan. But it wasn’t always like that. It used to look like this:

Pennsylvania Station in the 1910s

In the 1960s, facing declining train usage and financial problems, the Pennsylvania Railroad sold the rights to everything above ground and the incredible station pictured above was demolished. It was only afterwards, when it actually happened, that everyone fully realized what they had lost. Determined to not let other beautiful architectural landmarks get destroyed, the city passed a law to restrict similar demolition. Grand Central Terminal was preserved because of the lesson learned from letting Pennsylvania Station go.

I was thinking about this story — failing to do the right thing, but applying that knowledge to the next thing — while re-reading Marco’s excellent post on the future of podcasting. In it, he lays out the technical details for how podcasting works today, and makes the case for leaving it alone. I especially like this part, on his determination to keep Overcast a sort of pure MP3 client:

By the way, while I often get pitched on garbage podcast-listening-behavioral-data integrations, I’m never adding such tracking to Overcast. Never. The biggest reason I made a free, mass-market podcast app was so I could take stands like this.

I should have realized it earlier, but I don’t think I really connected all of Marco’s goals with Overcast until Daniel Jalkut and I had him on Core Intuition episode 200. We talked about many of these same themes as Marco was finishing up Overcast 2.0.

There’s also a great discussion on Upgrade about this. It starts about halfway through.

In a response to Marco on MacStories, Federico Viticci writes about the parallel trend in the web industry toward centralized services like Facebook and Medium that allow “content professionals” to monetize their writing. In doing so, those writers give up many of the benefits of the open web:

But the great thing about the free and decentralized web is that the aforementioned web platforms are optional and they’re alternatives to an existing open field where independent makers can do whatever they want. I can own my content, offer my RSS feed to anyone, and resist the temptation of slowing down my website with 10 different JavaScript plugins to monitor what my users do. No one is forcing me to agree to the terms of a platform.

While the open web still exists, we really dropped the ball protecting and strengthening it. Fewer people’s first choice for publishing is to start a web site hosted at their own domain. Like the destruction of Pennsylvania Station, sometimes you only know in hindsight that you’ve made a mistake. We were so caught up in Twitter and Facebook that we let the open web crumble. I’m not giving up — I think we can get people excited about blogging and owning their own content again — but it would have been easier if we had realized what we lost earlier.

Reading posts like Marco’s and Federico’s, and listening to Jason and Myke on Upgrade, I’m convinced that podcasting will remain open because we know better now. As a community we can learn from the mistakes with the web and the threats of closed platforms, making sure that podcasting is preserved as a simple technology that no one controls.