My Initial Reaction to Apple’s 2013 WWDC Keynote (iOS 7 announcement)

I’m frustrated with Apple. You’re supposed to be the leader. You’re supposed to be the ones who lead the charge in the fight to finding the most elegant and advantageous integration of technology into our daily lives. You gave us a simple personal computer. You gave us the touch screen. Lately you’ve just been giving us a re-hashed version of what everyone else has been giving us.

Sure, there were always products in the same genre as you when you launched an innovation. There were computers before you gave us the Apple II. There were smartphones before you gave us the iPhone. And there were even tablets before you gave us the iPad. But where the competition focused on incorrect priorities, you turned down a different road, simplified things we didn’t care so much about and opened new doors to ideas we hadn’t even imagined yet.

If I weren’t a developer and only used Apple products and services, your announcement today of iOS 7 would blow my mind. I wouldn’t have already heard about photo filters from Instagram, or calendar reminders based on real-time traffic from Google, or sharing photos and videos with comments from Facebook, or the idea of flat design from virtually every 3rd party app out there today. Maybe that’s more my problem than yours, but to me, you seem to have gone from an intelligent shark devouring the competition because they’re too slow and stupid, to a slow, brainless whale slowly swimming with your mouth open to catch whatever scraps of fish the real leaders have graciously left you.

People have put some awesome work into creating amazing experiences and features on your platform. Support them, integrate better with them, and stop turning them into competition. Instead of recognizing that Google is the absolute best at maps, email, and cloud services, you create your own service offerings in order to force people who have long enjoyed Google’s superior experience on iOS into a decision between the hand that gave them the iPhone in the first place and the genius software engineers at Google. For non-technical people, I can see how a single AppleID sign on that gives them all of the technical capabilities they need would be attractive.

But the technological landscape is growing more fragmented every day. There are now more technological-aware categories than super user and “What’s a computer?” Yes, the majority of the world still doesn’t have smartphones, or even cell phones for that matter. But there is also a massive population online today that is aware of the advantages of the internet and know how to sign up for and use online services. This is no longer just about 20-somethings knowing all of the tips and tricks about using an iPhone and having to explain what an iPhone is to their parents. Nowadays our parents are catching on to technology sometimes faster than the younger generation! It’s not a big deal for my grandma to sign up for Gmail or Pinterest, she’s been hit over the head a million times on how signing up for a service works. A single sign on for the technological illiterate is becoming less and less relevant every day.

I would love to see Apple stay awesome at hardware, design, and human interaction. But leave the software to the guys who do it best. Integrate with them. Stop wasting a year working on duplicating the functionality that your supposed best friends (third party developers) have worked so hard to bring to your beautiful platform.

I want an Apple that doesn’t offer a calendar, a web browser, photo sharing, or even email. I want an Apple that focuses on making the best device that integrates with the best online software possible.

But that doesn’t make sense when you’re the largest technology company in the world, have thousands of employees, and have investors to answer to. More products, more money, more enemies, and more problems for your users.

I guess I need to stop getting my hopes up when watching a WWDC keynote.

Counting Horses with Grandpa

At the viewing for my grandpa on Tuesday night we had an opportunity to stand up and share a memory of him with the family. I was enjoying listening to everyone else’s stories so I didn’t think of any at the time, but I remembered one that I wish I would have remembered earlier:

One year for Thanksgiving we had our family dinner in the basement of a church in a town about an hour away from my grandparent’s home in Cedar Falls. I don’t remember how old I was. Mom let me ride with grandpa, so I climbed in the passenger seat, just me and grandpa in the car.

We got on the highway and he said, “Hey Miles, want to play a game?” I’m pretty competitive so I said, “Sure, you’re going down Grandpa!”

He continues to explain the game to me, “Okay, we each look out our own windows and count how many horses we see on our side. When we get to the church, whoever has the most horses wins.” This was going to a landslide: a young kid versus a senior citizen focusing on driving. I had this in the bag.

"Two rules though: if there is a cemetery on your side, your count gets reset to 0." Okay, that makes sense. "And, you automatically win if there’s a 2 ton, steel bull on your side." I didn’t know Iowa that well at the time, so naturally I said to him, "Are you sure that’s tobacco in your pipe grandpa? Maybe I should be driving."

I sit straight up and get ready to count. A few minutes later I say, “I’ve got 12! How many do you have Grandpa?” He sadly replies, “2.” I wonder if I should omit a few horses from my count to not make this so one sided, but after all I’m his grandkid so that thought went right out my head. I even see some ostriches and convince grandpa to let me count ostriches too. I was so excited.

4 cemeteries on my side. 4. I was so mad. Every time a cemetery would pass though, there was usually a ranch with a few horses on the other side so I tried to count as many as I could thinking that I was still in the running.

About 45 minutes into the trip, I’m plastered to my window looking for every horse I could find, and grandpa taps me on the shoulder and says, “Hey Miles, look what’s coming up on my side.”

A 2 ton, steel bull.

As mad as I was about the cemeteries, I was livid and astounded about this. I realized that grandpa grew up in Iowa and probably knew these highways like the back of his hand. “You set me up Grandpa! Not fair!”

The entire Thanksgiving dinner all I could think about was riding home with grandpa so I could have the bull on my side and rub it in his face.

I begged my mom to let me ride back to Cedar Falls with him, got in the car with him all excited, and immediately asked, “Hey can we play the horse counting game again?!”

His reply: “Nah, that game is no fun anymore.”

Out of all of the games I played with my grandpa over the year, this one sticks with me and I still hold a bit of a grudge. You were a clever guy and I’ll miss you, Grandpa.

4 shot cappuccino - starting this week off with a kick! (at Ozo Coffee)

4 shot cappuccino - starting this week off with a kick! (at Ozo Coffee)

(Source: Spotify)

Great live session from @Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis at @Spotify NYC

(Source: Spotify)

Eldorado Canyon State Park hiking last weekend with Whitney

Eldorado Canyon State Park hiking last weekend with Whitney

Another week, another pound!

I got pretty big in college. An unlimited, free cafeteria and a dual degree Computer Science and Information Assurance program don’t result in weight loss. It’s almost two years later and I haven’t lost any of it. I have been pretty busy, what with getting married and worrying about making a career, however life will always be busy, so it’s just something I need to figure out how to fix.

Getting a framework that works for me

Two months ago I started the WeightWatchers for men online program and I’m already down 10 pounds. That’s 1.25 pounds lost a week, so I’m on a pretty good path.

Controlling what I eat hasn’t been the challenge. I actually prefer fruits and vegetables to lots of breaded and fried things, so eating better hasn’t been difficult. I’ve tried apps on my iPhone that help me count calories, but I always thought it tedious to track every single little thing, even things that were supposedly good for me, like fruit and vegatables. WeightWatchers doesn’t count calories, instead counting point values that they assign to foods. All raw fruits and vegetables are 0 points, so anytime I’m hungry but I’m low on points for the day, I grab some fruit or a vegetable and don’t worry about it hurting my daily stats. It’s been really enjoyable and I haven’t felt hungry at all.

Scheduling has been tough

For me the challenge has been fitting in exercise. I work full time, work on side projects on my own time, and always enjoy spending time relaxing with my wife, so I’ve frequently gotten to the end of the day only to realize that I haven’t exercised at all. String a few of those kinds of days together and a lost week goes by. For me, planning has been the key. Every night before I go to bed I write down an exact schedule on my iPhone, detailing everything I need to get done. It usually looks something like this:

7 am wake up

8 - 5 work

5 - 6 work on side projects

6 - 6:45 exercise

6:45 - 7 make dinner

7 - 7:30 dinner

8 - 10 relax together

I’ve been doing this for a few weeks and it’s worked out pretty well.

Getting everything done

In order to stay productive and get all of the little things I need to get done done, I’ve also been using the Pomodoro technique quite a bit. Basically, I’ll set a timer for about 30 minutes or so, work during the timer, and at the end of the timer do something that I either want to do or need to get done. It serves as a reward for working hard for those 30 minutes, forces me to work harder since I know I only have 30 minutes, and reduces the worry that I’m not making progress on work by doing something I want to or need to get done.

Work out anywhere, anytime

Another tool that’s been useful for me over the last few weeks is an iPhone app called Teemo. I’ve tried a ton of fitness apps for my iPhone and Teemo is by far the best one for me. It provides quick, bodyweight only exercises that can be done at anytime and in the home. An exercise or two from Teemo is usually one of the things I do after a good 30 minute working session.

My Interests

There are a lot of things to get excited about in today’s ever connected and quickly advancing world. Technology is cooler than ever, providing tons of life altering capabilities that no one thought imaginable. But to me, there are two things that I’m most excited about: building technology to improve in-person social interactions and bringing technology to developing countries.

The things that interest me are a direct reflection of my life experience and what I care about. One of the most important things to me is family and close friends. Building close relationships that truly improve your experience is crucial and challenging. Technology, especially with the advent of the smartphone, has been (rightly) accused of detracting from true interpersonal connections. It is true that you can now find people with similar interests all over the world from the comfort of your couch, but the ability to really connect with the people sitting across from you at the table has been minimized by the never-ending and advertisement-backed system of apps and DVRs.

However, technology does allow us to be more efficient in sharing who we are with the people we care about. After going on a trip, it’s easier to share pictures and moments with all of your friends and family. When needing a hand moving to a new place, it’s simple to message your entire family or group of friends. However these same applications not only distract us from having meaningful in-person interactions, but continually condition us to behave in a way that makes advertisers on smartphones and TVs more money. My biggest pet peeve is seeing a group of people out at a restaurant or a concert together, and each of them is on their smartphone ignoring the people around them. I think that technology can have a place in helping to re-enforce the positive relationship building practices that so many of us have forgotten about, it’s simply up to someone to build something to make it happen.

The other thing that interests me a great deal is revolutionizing the way people in developing countries live and work by introducing technology that they’ve never heard of or seen before. Building software and hardware that fits their unique needs and goals, can tear down long standing physical barriers. The power of the internet can help local farmers reach customers overseas that are willing to pay much more than anyone locally. It can help children dying of easily cured diseases get funding for their simple, life-saving procedures (see watsi.org). Technology can even prepare the next generation of leaders with the latest and greatest strategies from around the world in helping their country grow.

So those are the things that get me excited about technology. If those are the things that interest you as well, then we should talk.

You should also follow me on twitter.

Recent Nerdy News

Lots of cool stuff has been happening and if you’ve been too busy or you’ve been living under a rock, I’ll provide a little summary of the things I think have been the coolest:

  • Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, lifts the Apollo F-1 engines off of the ocean floor When man first travelled to the moon, NASA’s engineers had no way of retrieving the engines that shot its astronauts out of the earth’s atmosphere and then fell back to Earth and landed in the ocean. So for almost 60 years, a key component of the mission to the moon that inspired a generation has been sitting on the ocean’s floor. Jeff Bezos, the Founder and CEO of Amazon, was one of those kids motivated by the Apollo missions, and made it his mission to get those engines back. This week, he did it! Follow the link for pictures!

  • Webflow launches a preview of their responsive design layout tool For a while now responsive design has been a big buzz word and a goal for a lot of designers and developers - code once and any device size can interact and see your website perfectly. This work has mainly been done by hand up until Webflow came along. They’re a startup that has the goal of allowing anyone to design a responsive website visually, and get all of the HTML and CSS to host their responsive website anywhere. It’s pretty cool!

  • Gel that stops intense bleeding instantly Joe Landolina, an NYU student, came up with a gel that instantly stops any amount of bleeding. This new gel has tons of applications, but Joe has his sights on military applications first.

  • Backbone 1.0 was released One of the favorite front-end Javascript libraries of developers nowadays, Backbone, has announced its 1.0 version! It’s a really powerful library and it’s awesome to see it reach some stage of maturity.

  • Superhero.js is released Superhero.js is a collection of resources for Javascript developers looking to read up on the latest and greatest practices for building large Javascript applications. It’s a pretty entertaining website in and of itself, so check it out and learn a thing or two.