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Tech |

Posts for 'Tech'

Using my non-US smartphone in America

March 7, 2014 •

Over the last two years, I’ve been incredibly lucky in being able to attend a number of tech conferences over in the Bay Area, San Francisco. In all of those trips, I found there was one thing that turned out being ABSOLUTELY essential every single time. That thing was having access to a smartphone with proper data access.

Whether it was to co-ordinate with my mates who traveled to America with me, online networking with people I met around the conferences, or even to simply look up anything that suddenly came along (such as ‘how do American tips work?’, and ‘how do I get out of the Tenderloin?’ ^_^’), there were many times where being able to access the internet at the drop of a hat was EXTREMELY useful (née life-saving. XD).

That being said, if you’ve never been to America before, and have no idea on even where to start, hopefully this blog post will help you. This post is the culmination of experimentation by myself and quite a few of my mates over multipe combined trips to America, so hopefully it’ll save you some trouble doing the same thing (as well as some money).

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Disabling Timer Coalescing in OS X Mavericks

January 25, 2014 •

If you’re an iOS developer, and you’re still developing apps that support iOS versions below iOS 7 (Like I am), then you might have noticed after upgrading to OS X Mavericks that the iOS 6 Simulator runs absolutely terribly. EVERY single animation in there runs at an incredibly choppy frame-rate, which makes most kinds of app testing relatively useless.

Today, I learnt from a little birdie that the reason for this issue is due to the new Timer Coalescing feature, introduced in Mavericks:

In OS X Mavericks, Timer Coalescing groups low-level operations together, creating tiny periods of idle time that allow your CPU to enter a low-power state more often. With its activity reduced up to 72 per cent, the CPU uses less energy, giving your battery a break too. This happens so fast you won’t notice a thing. And your Mac still gets just as much done just as quickly.

Apple – OS X Mavericks – Advanced Technologies (January 2014)

It would seem to make sense that as a result of Timer Coalescing, the timers that power the iOS 6 Simulator animations are getting coalesced themselves, and this is resulting in the strange behaviour (Curiously enough, the iOS 7 Simulator is fine though!).

In any case, apparently there is a console command that lets you disable Timer Coalescing across the system:

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iOS 7

September 11, 2013 •

Since we’re only a few hours away from Apple’s new announcement, I thought now would be the best time to post my reflection on iOS 7.

Just before WWDC, myself and a few friends were speculating on what iOS 7 would look like. We’d heard the rumours that it would be ‘flatter’, but we were guessing that that would probably mean a reduction in all of the glossy elements, and the removal of the over-the-top skeuomorphic design elements in apps like Notes and Game Center, and that would be about it. What we actually got though… we totally did not see that coming.

So at this point, what do I think of iOS 7? It’s NOT BAD, but definitely needs TONNES of refinement.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely agree that iOS was definitely in need of a redesign. It’s gone through 5 years of looking basically exactly the same. But on the same note, I think Apple could have gone about it in a bit more of a subtle way.

On the whole, I like the design approach and directions its adopted. The unified status bar is a stroke of genius, and I love all of the new animations. Overall, the system looks really clean. But… there are a few things that bother me:

  • Making it so buttons convey their tappable nature via colour instead of a bordered edge can be extremely limiting, and sometimes messes with design pretty badly.
  • The thin typography can get pretty hard to read in places (especially in some places of iComics where bold text was prevalent).
  • Making heavy use of Retina pixels in design while there are still non Retina devices supported (iPad 2 + iPad mini) feels somewhat dodgy.
  • The elements in the status bar feel way too small.
  • ALL of the stock app icons. Yeesh. XD

After cruising around Dribbble for a bit, I personally find this design to be what I’d been hoping iOS 7 would have turned out as; a nice hybrid design that adopts some of the major new points of iOS 7, but still retains the major familiarity of iOS 6.

As it stands, I think the ‘flat’ motif of iOS 7 needs to be revisited a bit more. At the moment, it feels overly simple to the point where the UI feels like it’s wasting the build quality of the screen it’s being rendered on. And with the design of the current app icons, I feel like the experience may be at risk of losing its premium feel.

In any case, I have faith that Apple will fine-tune the system before iOS 7 makes the final drop.

I will most definitely be supporting iOS 7 in iComics, but I’ll also be continuing to develop it on iOS 5 and 6 to ensure all current users can continue to enjoy it.

And if worse comes to worse, there’ll always be iOS 8. XD

WWDC 2012 – The Keynote

June 27, 2012 •

In the queueIf you’re going to go to WWDC, there’s one tradition you must partake in above all else. And that’s the attending the opening keynote!

Since I’d never been to WWDC before, I went around and asked some of the veterans what time they thought would be best to start lining up for the keynote. Several recommended 5:00am, others recommended 3:30am and a certain sexy Apple engineer wearing a pink shirt even recommended 11:30pm the night before!

Since I knew waiting in a line from 11:30 would absolutely destroy me, and I didn’t want to risk missing out by going at 5 (given how fast the tickets went!), I decided to join the 3:30 contingent. So after a rather brief sleep, we all woke up at 3:30, met in the lobby and headed down to Moscone West to line up!

Blimey was the line already long! Already, the line had gone from the entrance, down the width of the block and around the corner. By 5:00, it had already continued down the entire length of the block and around the corner. By the time we were actually let into the building, it had already wrapped around the entire block, and the back of the line was right next to the entrance!

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WWDC 2012 – The Golden Tickets

June 21, 2012 •

Whew boy! What a week! I totally meant to write this before I went, but time as always, was a fleeting illusion. XD

Since it’s too much to cover in one post (And I’m writing this before work), I’m going to cover my trip to this year’s WWDC, including how I got in, the whole keynote experience, and then reflections of the conference itself. 🙂

Right after my trip to GDC, I received word that the AUC was opening up scholarship applications for staff and students of Australian universities to attend Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Aside from the pool of competitive scholarships, as luck would have it, this year my university had been allocated a scholarship for them to select one staff member for the trip. ^_^

Not wasting anytime, I sent off two applications; one for the competitive scholarships and one for my university’s allocated one. I was initially disheartened when I received word that I hadn’t made the cut for any of the competitive scholarships, but then I was thrilled to receive a phone call from my university’s AUC coordinator saying that I’d been selected for the allocated staff scholarship! ^_^

Now, given the way that Apple decided to roll with the selling of the WWDC tickets this year, simply getting a scholarship did not guarantee we’d all get to go. In the past, Apple simply allocated the tickets to AUC which were then forwarded onto the scholarship winners, but since this year, tickets were digitally tied to the Apple ID they were purchased with, that meant we’d have to see about securing our own tickets when they opened. And given last year the tickets sold out in less than 12 hours, it’s fair to say none of us knew what was coming. XD

When the ticket sales opened, I had JUST sat down in a cinema to watch The Avengers. Thankfully, one of my co-workers had noticed the sales had opened and sent me an SMS to tell me. Not wasting a second, I bought my ticket on my iPhone, in the middle of the cinema, right in the middle of the movie. By the time the movie ended, the WWDC tickets were sold out. So in hindsight, I’m VERY glad I didn’t wait until after the movie to sign up, and I’m pretty sure I owe that ticket to my co-worker.

But… sadly, as a result of that extremely small window, a LOT of the scholarship winners ended up missing out. And in addition to that, one new condition of buying a ticket that wasn’t really made clear before ticket sales opened up was that not only did you need a valid Apple ID, but it had to be an active developer account (eg, currently on the $99 subscription), which tripped up even a few more applicants.

So while I was extremely happy to have managed to secure a ticket to WWDC, it felt rather bittersweet seeing a lot of my buddies miss out at the same time. It was absolutely crazy how fast the tickets sold out this time around and I’m extremely scared to think about what it will be like next year.

Either way, right there I knew WWDC was going to be way more hardcore than GDC. Even getting your foot in the door requires you to be quick, and on the ball. XD

eWaste Recyling with Apple in Aus

February 2, 2012 •

Sooo much old stuff
Now this was a pretty cool thing. 🙂

It’s fair to say that over the past years, myself and my family have managed to amass a fair amount of computer… crap. XD Headphones have broken, computers have been upgraded, LCD monitors have died, somehow we ended up with 7 keyboards, a printer older than me; the list goes on. XD

It’s really hard to just throw this stuff out though. We’re a pretty environmental bunch in my house (at least, I like to think we are) and we’re all well aware of what happens if this stuff hits landfill. So we’ve been hanging onto this stuff, and while sometimes Perth does have eWaste drives, I haven’t seen one in over year.

Not wanting to REALLY have to pay to have this stuff recycled, I checked out Apple’s recycling program to see if there was anything they’d be able to do. And ‘lo and behold, they did. 😀

Turns out Apple’s policy towards recycling changes on a per-region basis, but here’s how it goes down in Australia. If you purchase a new Mac from Apple, within 3 months of that purchase, you are eligible to have any of your old computer hardware recycled for absolutely free! And funnily enough, I recently made such a purchase. XD

Anyway, the process was really simple. After providing my new Mac’s serial number (just to prove I really do have one XD), all I had to do is fill out a form on the Recycling Program page that outlined all of the hardware that I wanted to dispose of.

About a day later, I was contacted by telephone by an Apple employee to confirm the best pickup time. After agreeing to Wednesday, all I had to do was place all of the hardware on my front porch and that was it! When I got home tonight, the hardware had been picked up; no fuss no muss!

Either way, I’m really happy about this. Proper eWaste disposal facilities are still near and far in Australia, and Apple is doing an amazing service with this program. 😀

But yeah. If you just bought a Mac, and happen to have a pile of broken technology lying around, send it to Apple! 😀