Where should Google land in Detroit?

Curbed Detroit: “Big news yesterday as Google has decided to ditch their suburban Birmingham offices for new digs in downtown Detroit.”

If you’ve followed me over the years you know I love cities and I have a real thing for Detroit. I can’t explain my fascination other than to say it’s full of beautiful architecture. Beautiful architecture that’s rotting.

I hope Google finds a great space in downtown Detroit to bring back to life. People bring life to cities. It’s nice to see Detroit coming back to life.

Making your iOS App embrace the iPhone X notch

After yesterdays announcement I decided I’d rebuild RxCalc with the iOS 11 SDK. I figured things would rebuild and my app would fully embrace the new iPhone X without change, but it didn’t work. When I built the app it ran in what I’d call letter boxed mode. The top and bottom were cropped. It was like running an older app on iOS 7, if you’ve ever seen that.

UGH! Why you letterboxed bro?
UGH! Why you letterboxed bro?

I was puzzled. I tried all kinds of jiggery-pokery and nothing worked. So I finally did what any self respecting lazy developer would do. I asked Twitter for help, and Jeff Johnson saved the day.

I was — quite honestly — surprised something so little could make it work, but darn it, you gotta trust the experts. I added a new launch screen at the recommended 1125×2436 size and it worked! Yippee!

Hey, that worked!
Hey, that worked!

So, thanks Jeff! Also, if you’re looking for a bonafide Mac and iOS Developer you should consider reaching out to Jeff — he’s available for work — and has a history of shipping great Mac and iOS Software.

And remember — EMBRACE THE NOTCH!

Work Note: Loading View Controllers from a Storyboard

When I need to load a view controller from a Storyboard I like to create an extension to the view controller’s class and add a class function to it that does the work. It keeps things looking clean in the code where you use it.

I’m not sure if this is smart or dumb. I’m sure very smart people will let me know. Here’s an example.

Here’s how you’d use it in your code.

How I use Evernote

A few days ago Steven Frank was asking on Twitter why folks no longer post about their PIM’s and the like, which made me think of two people; Jerry Fahrni  and Cass McNutt. Both are information junkies and are always looking for a better way to organize their thoughts.

Over time I’ve had to find a way to organize mine. At one point I could keep

Evernote Work Note
Image of my Personal Projects Work Note.

everything in my head but as I’ve grown older that’s no longer possible. I had to find a way to group them electronically so I can search them. That’s where Evernote comes in. I just dump all kinds of stuff into it and rely on tags and searching to pull out what I’m interested in revisiting.

I call these streams of thought Work Notes and I have different work notes for different projects; Personal and Work to name a couple.

When I’m working on something I open up a specific Work Note, add today’s date, a hashtag just below that, and highlight the hashtag. This may not be the optimum way to organize but it works for me and Evernote is good at searching for them. I also include Evernote tags so I can search on those as well. The hashtags and the Evernote tags don’t necessarily match but they might.

As I work through the day I may paste an image into the note or make a bullet list or write about how I solved a problem. It can be anything I’m thinking related to the days work on this project.

Is it useful?

Yes, it’s useful to me. This may not work for you or your particular workflow but I’ve found it works great for me. Is it perfect? I don’t know that any generic solution is perfect for anyone. I’ve had my moments where I’ve considered using other tools to record my thoughts, like Day One, but I always find myself opening Evernote, adding a date, highlighting a hashtag, and going to work.

Old Apps

A cute little monkey.I got an email from Apple a week or so back letting me know I needed to upgrade one of my apps to 64-bit. I knew right away it was Arrgly but wasn’t really sure if I wanted to update it.

On Sunday morning I received an email from an Arrgly user asking if I was going to update it because he likes the app. It felt good to know someone else found my goofy app useful. I decided at a minimum I’d publish a little framework someone else could use to write their own version of the app if I couldn’t get to it, or couldn’t finish it on time.

It took less than an hour to create the project and get it published. If you’re doing Mac or iOS development and you need to shorten or expand URL’s for a YOURLS based service you’re welcome to use YOURLSKit. It’s all Swift 3 but should be fine with Swift 4 projects and iOS 11 or macOS High Sierra. It’s a tiny bit of code, but it does the job.

Apple Watch as an Heirloom?

When the Apple Watch was announced I saw some pictures on apple.com that gave me hope Apple would make the guts replaceable. (If someone knows of a picture showing an exploded view of the Apple Watch I’d love to hear about it.)

For some crazy reason I thought it could become an heirloom, like the watches my grandfather passed to me. Those watches are very special to me. They’re physical objects that still work and remind me of my grandpa.

When Tim Cook said the Apple Watch was “The most personal device we’ve ever created” I took him at his word. It is a very personal device to me. I have great affection for all of my Apple devices, but they all feel like tools compared to the Apple Watch.

I still really want a device I can wear for the remainder of my life and pass it down to someone else and have it continue to function. This is something Apple could do, if they wanted. I know I’m asking for a lot. But, if I can’t do this it means the Apple Watch is really an expensive throwaway item. Because it does feel so personal, I hate that idea.

I think the first test of this devices longevity is approaching. The battery is not

Muddy Watch

so great. It managed to last for over two years but now dies mid-afternoon. At some point I’ll take it in and hope I can get a replacement battery. I don’t want a new watch, I just want a new battery. When my iPhone 5c’s battery went bad they just replaced the entire device, which was fine with me, but I feel a need to keep my watch. The face and body are scratched and that makes it really unique to me.

If there is no way to replace just the battery from now until I croak I’ll just switch back to one of my many analog watches and keep my Apple Watch Series 0 as an artifact of an interesting time for Apple.

My Medical Records

Medical records need disrupting. I’ve made little quips here and there on Twitter about this. I should own my medical records and they should be shared with physicians and their facilities as needed.

Why? In the words of Joe Biden “None of your business.” Seriously though, why should our medical records be locked in a system we cannot access? We can learn something from Twitter, Facebook, and Google. We should own our medical records — via an open standard — and allow doctors and hospitals to ask our permission to see them. Much like friending someone on a social network. The doctor looks me up, asks if they can see my records, I get a message saying the doctor would like access to my records, and I choose to let them or not. My choice, my records.

Case in point. I have a problem with one of my knees. In 2004 I had surgery to remove cartilage, a bone spur, and some arthritis from that knee. It was a fantastic decision. It made my day to day life much better. Fast forward to 2017 and that knee has become an issue. It hurts — constantly, it swells, on occasion it fails causing me to stumble, and it’s unstable. I don’t trust it and I’m tired of the constant pain it causes.

Getting to the point. I made an appointment with my family doctor to discuss the problem. Before going I tried to locate the doctor that did the surgery back in 2004, but she’s moved on. I contacted her old group to see if they had my records. Nope. All they have are records dating back to 2006. Ok, no proof of the surgery and more importantly I don’t have a record of what was done to the knee. Swell.

I visit my doctor last week. Tell her what’s going on. She puts the knee through some tests and understands there is something going on. Great. I explain there is a history here but I cannot tell her exactly what was done. My only explanation is I had surgery in 2004 to do X, Y, and Z. But I don’t know the exact terms nor do I know where the cartilage was removed or how much.

She orders and x-ray and while she’s doing this she explains she’d like to do an MRI but the Insurance company requires she order an x-ray and order physical therapy before doing the MRI. What?

She knows it’s wrong but her hands are tied. She can’t see what’s already been done to the knee and to top it off the insurance company has it’s checklist she has to fulfill before she can order what she really needs.

Now I get to go through — what I imagine will be quite uncomfortable — physical therapy because my records are lost.

I have to believe if a service existed, based on open standards, I’d be able to share these records with my doctor so she could see exactly what was done in 2004 and the insurance company would also have evidence physical therapy didn’t work back then so why not go right to the MRI and avoid the expense of the x-ray and physical therapy.

This is broken.

I know the EHR is only a tiny fraction of our dated system but I’d like to have a complete medical history. It’s my history.

To fix this will take eons. Medicine is so far behind when it comes to technology. Look at systems like Epic. It is seen as a leader in its field, but it’s a closed system. How does that benefit anyone but Epic? It doesn’t.

We need an Open API with services offered by many providers that are patient driven. Allow data to move between systems. Don’t make your money by holding patient data hostage. Make your money by building the better service.

Hopefully, someday, we’ll have a Single Payer System in America. As part of that system it’s my sincere hope good patient outcomes becomes the center of attention and data is allowed to flow between systems at, at least, national level.

Someone please disrupt this industry with an open system.

Apple Park Design

The Wall Street Journal: “A section of workspace in the circular, Norman Foster–designed building is finally move-in-ready: sliding-glass doors on the soundproof offices, a giant European white oak collaboration table, adjustable-height desks, and floors with aluminum-covered hinged panels, hiding cables and wires, and brushed-steel grating for air diffusion.”

Like so many people I couldn’t wait to see the inside of the new Apple Park building. From the outside it’s absolutely amazing. But the inside appears to be stark, cold. Of course this is my opinion and I haven’t actually been inside the building, which could change my mind because experiencing something for yourself can make a world of difference.

I hope you like white, stark, and cold?

I happen to have some recent experience moving into new digs. Agrian just completed construction on our new building and we moved in a couple months ago. By contrast our building is inviting, not stark. It has a design I’ve never experienced and I love it. Our building is basically split down the middle by common space. The main entrance is in the middle of the building, which is a rectangle, not a circle. That main entrance opens to a long hallway which ends in The Hub. It’s the heart of the building. It’s a reconfigurable space with a great kitchen on one side. The wall opposite the kitchen holds giant monitors stitched together. Yes you could play games on it, watch your favorite TV show, or whatever! It’s a great feature. Most of the time The Hub is configured with tables and booths so we have a place to eat together.

“Desks in the open-plan workspaces can be raised to standing level at the push of a button.”

Open workspaces? Ack.

Another feature of the new Apple Park space I’m not a fan of is open workspaces. I’ve worked at companies with open spaces and private offices, I prefer private offices. That allows me to make the space mine. The new Agrian building has a great layout, with private offices, fully adjustable desks, and big displays. Perfect.

I really need to take some pictures and share them. Another design choice I appreciate in our space is the use of texture throughout.

The only picture I’ve taken is of our exposed Server Room. It’s super easy for a server room to become messy. An exposed server room is a great way to embarrass folks into keeping it clean.

Our new server room. Nice and clean.

I’ve found over the years my environment affects my mood. I’d love to see Apple Park in person. It may be absolutely perfect, but from the article it doesn’t look like a place I’d fall in love with.

Does anyone else think it’s strange a design focused company like Apple didn’t locate in the middle of a city? I am. I don’t know why, but I am. Their new space is beautiful but was entirely too small for the company before it left the architects office. It only houses 12,000 people. For some reason I think Tony Stark when I think Apple. The Stark building in the Avengers seems Apple-like to me —with the exception of the big Stark lettering and it should be in San Francisco, not New York.

I could see the Apple logo in place of the Stark name.

I wonder if they’ll have tours at Apple Park? I’d like to check it out and see if my opinion changes.

Wearing Pants poll results

73% of respondents agree wearing pants does not make you a better Software Developer.

The only puzzling thing to me about this poll is the 27% that voted Yes. Must be management types?

MacBook Reviews

Joe Cieplinski: “Here’s the thing about this MacBook: I’m drawn to it. I don’t know if it’s the small size of the thing that just makes it more lovable, but I’m already finding more excuses to use this machine than I ever did with my 13-inch MacBook Pro.”

Casey Liss: “I haven’t regularly handled a full-size iPad since the iPad 3, but the MacBook feels to be roughly the same size in-hand. In actuality, the MacBook is 150% the weight of the iPad 3, but the fact that I’m even making that comparison should indicate how light it feels.”

For these two it pretty much boils down to size. It’s the laptop version of the iPad. Compact, light, easy to carry anywhere. That convenience comes at a small price — it’s not a powerhouse.

If you code for a living and can only afford to purchase one computer make sure you consider a MacBook Pro before pulling the trigger on the MacBook. Read Casey’s piece. He uses this device as a kind of iPad replacement. It’s not meant for serious development work, at least for him.

I’ve heard the MacBook called the ManagerBook. That seems, based on these reviews, to be fairly accurate. It’s a super usable, fun, portable computer that could be a great choice if you have the luxury of owning more than one device.

I could see purchasing one of these for my wife. She’s a full-time iPad Pro 9.7 user and on rare occasion she pulls out her ancient MacBook to do something like rip music to her collection. She doesn’t need a full computer often but the need does arise.

On the flip side of all this praise for the MacBook I have a good friend recently return his MacBook and pick up an older MacBook Air because he couldn’t get past the key travel on the new MacBook keyboard.

You win some, you lose some.