WWDC 2012posted by Marcus Zetterquist 2012-06-17 at 19:40
Propellerheads at WWDC 2012!
Finn, Fredrik and I went to WWDC (Apple Worldwide Developers Conference) in San Francisco this year!
It turns out there is a long tradition of lining up outside the convention center in the middle of the night so you can get in to the key note that kicks off the conference. Apple staff is handing out soup etc. during the night.
When we got there at 9am there was a queue around the block. Police officers were watching over things to prevent a large scale geek-stompede.
Finn had a slight problem changing the name name on his badge from "Finn Nathorst Boos", because Ernst had paid his ticket(?).
From my CTO perspective one of the biggest news from the key note was retina Macs. I've been waiting for high-resolution screens to appear for a long time and it looks fantastic, but supporting it properly will require a lot of work for us and all other Mac developers.
The conference was extremely well organized and relaxed with about 100 sessions and labs on iOS and OS X development.
It was kind of ironic that there was the same number of restrooms for men and women.
We got to hang out with a lot of cool people, both old and new friends!
Tuesday afternoon Ryan took us to Lucas Arts and ILM for a tour! His brother works at Lucas Arts! I got to touch the real R2D2!
Thursday night was the WWDC bash with food and drinks and a band playing. The singer called it a sausage party :-)
This has been my first week at work for a long time.
In September I became a dad for the first time, three month ahead of schedule. A first for me. Both the dad part and the ahead-of-schedule part.
Susanne and me have been living at the hospital for a long time, then at home with regular visits by a nurse from the hospital. We're all fine now, all three of us. Our daughter's name is "Irma".
I've been teaching her about computers and music and other important stuff, but progress is disappointingly slow. Maybe the incubator muffled my voice in the beginning.
Two new developers have started working here during my absence, Mats and Lars. Roland started just before I got busy elsewhere. Now we need to hire a developer called "Korg".
This makes a total of 17 people working in the development department! There is enough brainpower here to power one of those cool octopus-machines in the Matrix all by ourselves!
I spent my first week trying to catch up on the status of things and helping with some project planning. Lot's of talk about ice cream as usual. Makes me hungry.
Can't tell any details. Top secret. The secrecy allows us to change things around without breaking any promises, which is really important to us. Under-promise and over-deliver!
And we have to remember to be a good example to Steve.
Final proof that my first drum machine actually existed! No-one has ever heard of it when I have mentioned it :-) I bought it when I was about 12.
In my days, this was how high-tech equipment sounded! Listen carefully to the sound examples! We used to call the sound _between_ the drum hits "hum" and it was something bad. The crash cymbal was pretty neat - when you triggered it the first time it didn't stop making some weird noise until you turned the device off, then on again.
These were all the drums I had for quite some time! No, you could _not_ just make more instances of it!
It had this really cool "feature": you could drastically affect the sound in _real-time_ by pressing down on the plastic front panel at different places. Yeeears before the Korg KAOSS pad!
At the exact moment when music technology managed to finally get rid of the noise and the hum, noise and hum was _cool_ and had to be artificially added to the pristine quality audio using even more technology.
Yes! Ministry is one of my favorite bands! Not the the world's most... subtle band :-)
Found this song by Al Jourgensen's pals:
The chorus makes the hairs on my arms stand up. Works every time.
I've been longing to get one of those cool flat TVs!
Unfortunately it turned out to be really hard for me to understand what to buy. It used to be that you selected a brand and a size...
Now it's like 20 complicated technical terms to understand. DNIe? HDMI? Secam? Comb filter? cd/m2?
I eventually narrowed it down to a 32" Samsung LCD TV. The net shop I planned to buy from had a total of 9 Samsung 32" LCD TVs that I couldn't really tell apart. Argh. I let my girlfriend select the best looking one.
No, it's not a _huge_ building :-) And no, there is no giantic "Propellerheads" sign on the top of the building! Would be cool though! "Propellerheads" spinning slowly over Stockholm!
Development is done on floor 6. This is to keep the noise level and distractions down, but it's also about secrecy. Floor 6 has been getting really crowded, so a priority is to make use of the rest of floor 6. Especially since we're hiring more developers.
It's very complicated to figure out how to furnish since we have so many conflicting needs. We need to be able to concentrate all day - getting into the "flow" _and_ have easy communcation, for example.
Another issue worth thinking about is that having the company on two separate floors (like we've had for some time already) makes it hard to keep the "us" feeling. It easily becomes "us" vs. "them". So far we've kept all meeting rooms, coffe-machines etc. at floor 5 so people from both floors at least get to _see_ eachother everyday!
Looking forward to our new furnishing!
How is a Mac OS X application supposed to look and behave these days? Metallic windows? Striped windows? iTunes 6 windows? The pro-look used in Final Cut Pro etc? There are now so many different styles of buttons and other controls that I have no idea anymore. I used to know the name, usage and precise pixel layout rules for ever control supplied by the OS...
Apple is really catching up to Windows here in the competition for breaking user interface conventions and confusing the hell out of people for no appearent reason <bitter sarcasm>.
I have no problem with tweaking the appearance of user interface stuff, but what's going on is just random from my point of view.
The Spotlight feature in Mac OS X Tiger is great - love it! But please click "Show All" in the Spotlight menu and look at the Spotlight window you get. This window alone changes look-and-feel of almost everything I expect, compared to a normal Finder window, or compared even to iTunes. Is this window a floating window? I think so, but it really looks like a document window. But it doesn't sit in the Windows menu of the Finder? All the sorting and folding and stuff works differently.
These are an few example applications/features in Mac OS X Tiger that are all used for finding and organizing hug lists of items (songs, emails etc) - all of them with sorting, filtering, getting information for the items and so on:
2. iTunes 6
3. Smart Folder
4. Spotlight Show-All window
6. The standard open-dialog
They are all behaving and looking completely differently! For me, getting to grips with Spotlight's Show-All window is just as frustrating and confusing as learning a comparable feature on another operating system or even a web-based user interface!
Some time ago I installed the latest version of Windows XP and the latest version of Microsoft Office on my PC at home. When I started Windows, created a Word document and then saved it I had seen four or five different types of toolbar buttons! In the same generation software from the same company! Not much consistency there either.
Mac OS X and Windows have long had a huge advantage over the crappy user interface you usually have in a web browser. How are they thinking when they themselves are actively sabotaging one of their greatest competitive advantages?
On a slightly different note: we've had windows, menus, the mouse, keyboard shortcuts, floating palettes, icons and dialog boxes in commercial products since the 80:ies. Since then, the real improvements in user interfaces have been scarce. Mouse wheel. Context menus. Proportional scrollbar handles. 25 years.
Maybe the time has come for a next-generation user interface design? It won't be much tougher for me to get used to than Apple's or Microsoft's upcoming features...
I feel better now, getting this off my chest! :-)
Last two weeks we've done experiments with new technology here at the development department. Everyone gets to pick a cool subject and explore it, maybe writing small programs and stuff. Some of this might even make it into a product, but some is just about learning new things.
There were a few things that I think would interest you guys!
We've also had a post-mortem meeting covering the whole Reason 3 project. We have a small post-mortem after each milestone of the project, then one big one at the end. It's a way for us to step back and reevaluate what and _how_ we're doing things. This is always a learning experience.
Right now I'm working on distilling a number of action points out of the post-mortem meeting protocol. It's important to turn a thing like "wouldn't it be nice if beta testers and developers could use the same tracking system" - which is very good idea - into something with more bite. Like "Marcus must make beta test board and developer bug tracker integrate by June 1.". Or something.
We always do some refactoring (= cleaning up old code) for each release, and this time I feel the Reason source code is actually in better shape than ever. Old code that was done 5,6,7 years ago can be done cleaner and tighter today, since we?re more skilled and we use better tools. It is a hard thing to avoid this big pile of code to slowly deteriorate, which is a very common problem with software.
I'm really excited Reason 3 is shipping! We've worked hard for a very long time on this! Really. Hard. If you haven't tried Reason 3 yet, you really need to try it yourself. Some of the best improvements are a little subtle.
I'm especially looking forward to the weird Combinator patches that will be created. The factory patches are amazing out of the box, but it will probably take time to explore the Combinator to the max. This will to cool.
I also have high hopes for the new Remote-thing. Up until now, setting up the hardware panels, application and drivers have been as easy to use as getting Word Perfect working with a matrix printer in, like 1985. Maybe hardware panels with displays and motorized faders will _really _be taking off 2005! It?s been a long time coming.
"2005 is the year of the hardware surfaces!", as Steve would have put it. :-)
My next post is scheduled for the 2005-2006 timeframe.