I’m a developer, not a designer. I’ve always aspired to improve my front end skills. I have very strong opinions on how things should look, how site navigation should work, etc. Sadly, I have absolutely no ability to code any UI except for an unstyled steaming pile of HTML. I started watching the DOCTYPE podcast, hosted by Nick Pettit and Jim Hoskins in an effort to get some insight into the mysterious world of design. I had just caught up on their back catalog when I noticed that the last episode was posted back in March of 2011. Hmmm.
Like any reasonable person, I simply assumed that Nick and Jim had been abducted by aliens and went on about my business. Then, in one of the numerous podcasts I listen to I found a clue to their whereabouts. Turns out the alien abduction thing wasn’t far off. They’re both being held captive at Carsonified, I’m sure being subjected to strange medical experiments, probing, etc.
More importantly, when not being researched they are contributing to Carsonified’s latest creation, Treehouse (teamtreehouse.com). This used to be know as Think Vitamin Membership, but they’ve apparently re-positioned it, pumped some more resources in it and got Jim and Nick on-board to produce instructional video content.
Basically, Treehouse is an online subscription service with some pretty high production quality content on web design, web development and iOS development. Having been deprived of my instructional video fix, I joined up and am now addicted. Like a video game, Treehouse awards you badges for successful completion of quizzes and code challenges. Being the completionist I am, I’m going through all of the content even if I know the subject well. In doing so I’m finding out that the things I know well, maybe I didn’t know as well as I thought I did. Even if you’re experienced in any of the tracks the offer, it’s worth going through them again.
Although new and a work in progress, the content and site is very polished. Some of the videos haven’t been changed to the new Treehouse branding, but who cares? I’m sure they’ll get to it. The code challenges work well and the quizzes are somewhat evil in that if you get one wrong, or go review the material, the quiz resets so you have to answer all the randomly selected questions again. I did encounter a bug. One of the initial code challenges was to add a simple <div> to the body of an HTML page. I did it correctly, but Treehouse didn’t agree. I then pasted the example code into the box and it still thought it was incorrect. Refreshing the page and starting again fixed the problem though.
Treehouse starts at the absolute beginning for all topics, so if you’re a more experienced developer you might not find the initial stuff useful. If so, just take the quiz without watching the videos. Word on the street is that Facebook is looking at the Treehouse profiles and badge collections to identify potential recruits, so your Treehouse badges might turn into good resume bullet points at some point.
One thing that bothers me about Treehouse is that their mascot is a tree frog. Tree frogs creep me out. They never blink. What’s up with that?
It’s been a very bad year for loosing tech visionaries. Although not the cultural icon that Steve Jobs was I was saddened to hear of the passing of Dennis Ritchie. Dennis worked at Bell Labs back in the day. Without him we would not have the C programming language, which to this day is used in countless embedded devices and is used for the very serious, heavy lifting software running in the kernel space of the Unix and Linux boxes which power the Internet. Oh, and it influenced Objective-C which is the lanugage of choice for iOS development.
Speaking of Unix, he worked on that too. There aren’t many icons like Dennis anymore so you’ll be missed. Your book still sits on my bookshelf after all these years.
Learn more about Dennis Ritchie here.
In honor of the man who changed the world at least twice. Here is Steve Jobs speech at Stanford’s 2005 commencement.
Rest in peace Steve.
The kiwiluv Team
Software patents are consuming our resources. They are diverting energy which is better focused on innovation into intellectual property turf wars. Kudos to the White House for releasing this petition. It’s high time to reform the patent system to be compatible with the Information Age. We signed. Please join us.
To: The United States Government
We, the undersigned, are voters involved in the IT industry who believe that software patents will stifle innovation in the software industry and restrict computer users unfairly.
We have seen that many software patents covering well-known algorithms and techniques hinder the software industry in the United States of America and around the world. The Patent Office has shown that it does not understand software and cannot follow developments in the field, and frequently issues patents on well-known techniques and on simple ideas that programmers consider obvious. The causes of this are inherent in the nature of the software field and cannot be corrected.
Due to the incremental nature of software development, where developers add to the work of those that went before, patents covering software techniques are an obstacle to progress in software. Programmers, in the course of doing their job, search for solutions to the problem at hand and are only impeded by software patents which threaten them or their employers with litigation. The ultimate impact of software patents is to slow innovation, rather than to promote it and therefore contradicts the stated purpose of the patent laws.
Never before has an industry where copyright was widely established had patents imposed on it. Software patents increase the cost of doing business in the software industry, which will make it difficult for smaller companies and individual developers to operate.
Patents in most fields in practice usually affect only factories, patents that apply to software tie the hands of every computer user. Only a tremendous public benefit could justify this imposition, but the actual effect of software patents is harmful.
For the good of the software industry and computer users both, we call for a Federal law to exclude software implementations running on general purpose computer hardware from the coverage of any patent.
Please see the following links for more information:
NOTE: This petition is limited to the US voters in order to have the maximum effect in the United States. If software patents are a problem in your country you are free to use the text of this petition to start a petition for your country.
Node.js in real life…check it out.
When too busy to actually post something useful myself, I can always rely on the Internet to provide content for me to steal. I don’t follow TWIST, but Jason Roberts, a denizen of startupguild.net mentioned this. I had been following his adventures with implementing a real time dispatching system for Uber on the Techzing podcast. His background is high frequency trading, mine is real time machine control so I found this an interesting topic.
Sorry for the lack of activity. Launching 7RegentLane absorbs a lot of time, but we’ll be back to our evil plans for world domination shortly.
Look out Facebook. The only thing you have going for you is momentum. Google’s social networking offering looks way more polished that Facebook’s clunky offerings. Hopefully the privacy settings won’t require a doctorate in obfuscation to navigate. I will jump ship at the earliest opportunity.
I got this in an email the other day. Since the demise and assimilation of Palm by HP, I’d largely forgotten WebOS. However, this triggered a few thoughts (I have fewer than you would think).
I followed the yellow brick road to the HP WebOS developer center. I have to say, a couple of things impressed me.
The WebOS Product Lineup
Remember when it was just the Palm Pre? Well, it’s not much bigger now but doesn’t look bad.
Now that I’m lugging an HTC Thunderbolt or iPhone around, I really miss smaller phones. Charging the battery every four hours is also a big downer on that damn Thunderbolt.
The Veer is just my size. I check email, Twitter and Yammer frequently. Sometimes I text, but I rarely watch a ton of media so the big screen on these larger smart-phones is just a nuisance. But I digress. HP has a small, medium and tablet form factor. If they’re serious I’d be surprised if an iPhone-esque form factor weren’t also in the works.
The Development Suite
Another Smartphone Platform, Seriously?
Does WebOS matter anymore? To be clear, we see this as a race for third place in the smart-phone market (sorry RIM/Blackberry…the PlayBook won’t save you).
Personally, after Windows Phone 7‘s recent missteps (phone bricking, lolly-gagging over updates, etc.) I’d put my money on WebOS. iOS and Android will continue to dominate for the foreseeable future. WebOS may get traction depending on how skillfully HP markets it and to what degree they provide compelling devices. It’ll be a tough road for them.
From a developer’s standpoint, this proliferation of smart-phone platforms is maddening. Each has its own tech stack for developers to deal with. That fragmentation is driving developers to embrace frameworks such as PhoneGap, which WebOS has wholeheartedly adopted. In other words if you’re producing iOS and Android apps with PhoneGap, supporting WebOS devices isn’t much of a stretch. Supporting Windows Phone 7 is a completely different story at the moment. Even iOS, which ordinarily has to be programmed in the unholy spawn of Smalltalk and C (Objective-C), is supported by these frameworks less some of the stranger native controls (I’m looking at you UIPickerView).
I don’t know about the rest of you, but here’s our evil plan:
- Stay focused on iOS (I have to take horse tranquilizers to cope with Objective-C) and Android.
- Keep an eye on the market acceptance of the new devices HP is introducing.
The availability of Angry Birds.
Update 8/24/2011 – Following a fascinating earthquake that started in Virginia, shook Philly (even I felt it napping in my office) and heading west, HP announces that they are ceasing operations of the WebOS business unit. That means one of two things:
1. Yep, it’s dead.
2. HP has other sinister plans in a software-only realm.
Either way, if you’re a WebOS developer I urge you to use those skills and pump them into another platform. Things are going to get ugly.
Karen and I both got to attend the Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise conference a week or so ago. Probably not as cool as her trip to Web 2.0, but there were some great speakers. Here’s some of the talks I sat in on.
- Yehuda Katz spoke about Rails engines in Rails 3.1. Rails is maturing nicely. This will make it much easier to segment functionality in complex apps. He also spoke on SproutCore, which I’m increasingly curious about and regret not attending…too many great talks.
- I had a chat with Dan Allen and Lincoln Baxter III over lunch about Android development and how Objective-C for IOS makes my brain hurt. Then I attended their Java EE 6 talk. I use Java and Java EE extensively in my day job, but don’t touch it otherwise except for Android development. Java EE used to be a laughingstock and even Java zealots would only touch certain parts of it. It looks like it’s gotten to the point where it’s quite usable.
- Finally, my personal favorite was Ryan Dahl’s talk on Node.js. I’m growing weary of large, full stack MVC frameworks and getting curious about fast and scalable distributed systems the more our products force us into emphasizing mobile clients and de-emphasizing the actual web app. Node.js is an awesome took to build systems like that. Now I’m dying to find a project just to try it out.
I was a bit underwhelmed by the keynote speakers. Not because they were bad, but the topics weren’t interesting to me. Judging by the number of people lingering outside of the ballroom over breakfast, I’m not the only one.
All of the code and presentations are available on the sessions page and is well worth a look.