App Camp for Girls

It is saddening to see that after seventeen years as a software developer, working with colleagues of the opposite gender continues to be the exception. That is why I supported the App Camp for Girls campaign on Indiegogo the moment I heard about it.

This project, founded by Jean MacDonald, reached their goal of $50,000 in only three days; and today they reached their second goal of $100,000. The way the developer community rallied to support them is one of the best stories in our industry this year. 

It is exciting to see what they have accomplished already, and I look forward to seeing their project grow. As a father of two little girls, ages 5 and 4, my hope is that initiatives like these will be available to them when they grow older.

While I do not know you personally, Jean, thank you for inspiring girls to dream big. Find out more about App Camp for Girls on their website.


Today I found out about TinkerLearn from the fine folks at Mysterious Trousers (I love that name). It is an interesting concept: Instead of selling a programming book to teach iOS development, they sell the complete source code of fully-developed apps. These apps are designed to highlight the different aspects of iOS and Objective-C. As you read the source code, you will find within it explanations, links, and even exercises. They guide you thru modifying the source code in Xcode and understanding what is it that you are implementing.

I like the idea of having the app code itself be the textbook. Their pricing seems right: Lessons from basic to advanced cost between $2 and $6. This seems targeted to those developers with a different learning style–a sizable market that so far has been well served by series such as the ones from Head First Labs. In our fast-paced world of software development, any book you purchase today at the store is already outdated. That is why I would like to see affordable products such as TinkerLearn that can in theory be updated incrementally and kept current. I will be checking TinkerLearn out.


Ship Everything

Manton Reece, on shipping products:

You have to ship everything because time is precious. Make the decision early on about whether to start. If it’s worth coding, it’s worth letting the world see.

Just like the old adage goes: Shipping is a feature and your software should have it.


What We Are Losing

Andrew Keen, writing a terrific opinion piece today on CNN:

Social media’s ubiquity means that we are losing that most precious of human things—our sense of self.

NSScreencast and NSBrief

I recently discovered NSScreencast, a website produced by Ben Scheirman, which features screencasts on iOS development. I just watched the episode on UITableView paging and I think it is very well produced. The site requires a paid subscription for new episodes. From the looks of the sample episodes, the subscription seems to be well worth the $9 a month.

I discovered NSScreencast by listening to NSBrief, a podcast by Saul Mora. If you heven’t heard of NSBrief, I highly recommend it. It is hands down one of the most interesting technical podcasts out there for iOS and Mac OS X developers. Every week it features some of the best and brightest members of the Apple developer community.

Support independent developers!


Writer’s Block

Andy Ihnatko’s advice to writers is also great for those of us who write software:

You don’t have Writer’s Block. You’re bored with what you’re writing right now. So write something else! You think what you’re writing stinks. You’re probably right; well, keep working and make it better! You don’t know how to continue? This means that you’ve encountered a problem and the problem won’t just resolve itself so you should just keep hammering at it.

You don’t feel like writing? Don’t beat yourself up. Read something. Or admit to yourself that there’s more to your life than just writing. Take the day off. It’ll be fine.

And if you ever find yourself moaning that you feel like you’ll never write again…oh, please. Stop being a baby and write something, already.

The overlap in particular between music [majors who also are] computer programmers is huge […]. It speaks to the technicality of music but also to the creativity of software.

—Daniel Jalkut, founder of Red Sweater Software, Mac Power Users podcast #76