Silent no more…

Wow the past few months have been quite a wild ride, and a ton of things have happened!  So much has gone on and I’ve been writing so much software that I haven’t had the time to blog about it.  In the time I’m not writing software, I’d rather spend it with my wife than spend it writing about the software I’d written.

Over the past few months, while the PhoneGap team started a major refactor of their codebase, I spent some time learning more about Objective-C and UIKit, and discovered that writing native software on the iPhone is a heck of a lot easier than I’d previously expected. It shouldn’t have surprised me, because I’ve heard rave reviews from developers I have a great deal of respect for, and it also shouldn’t come as a great shock that Apple treats their developer SDKs with the same degree of polish and attention-to-detail that they do to their hardware. So while I was working with PhoneGap I’d contributed a number of plugins exposing the iPhone’s native UI elements to JavaScript-based apps, I’ll no longer be updating or adding any new plugins.

While my blog was collecting dust, I also finished a PhoneGap-based app, Parking Mobility, and while it was nice to start the project in familiar languages like HTML and JavaScript, a ton of time ended up getting eaten up chasing random bugs, memory leaks, and strange UI behaviours that required odd work-arounds to eliminate.  In the end I discovered I’d spent more time getting the application to market than if I had built it in native code.  Starting this past weekend I’ve begun doing just that, writing the application in UIKit and Objective-C in order to get more performance and a better user-experience out of the app than we have currently.

One of the other big reasons why I haven’t been as chatty on my site as usual is, of course, the launch of the iPad and the iPhone 3.2 SDK.  I decided to hit the ground running with this platform, and used this new SDK as my playground for learning more native development skills.  I developed two applications for the initial launch of the iPad, Boomle and myDrum Pad.

Boomle is an easy-to-play game featuring peaceful sounds, low-touch interaction, and an addictive gameplay.  It was a lot of fun to build, and got me started working with OpenAL, manually drawing displays, and dealing with real-time games.

myDrum Pad in contrast is an interactive drum pad that aims to allow people to tap beats out with a variety of sound packs along to music, or create their own riffs.  It’s still in active development, but this has been a blast.  I’m developing it with CoreData, OpenAL sound playback, multi-touch displays, In-App purchase and asynchronous downloads from Amazon S3.  It’s a highly dynamic UI with a smooth user experience.  It’s also the first iPhone project that I’m directly involving a graphic designer with the whole process, and once we get a beta ready, I’m sure you’ll like the screenshots and demo images we’ll be putting up.

Last, and certainly not least, I’ve changed roles in my day job at Sophos, and am working once again in the Email Security team developing our Email Security Appliance.  I get to play with all sorts of complex problems, web-based administration interfaces, and pretty much every technology under the sun.

Now that these projects have all stabilized, I’ll hopefully be blogging more about Objective-C, Javascript web applications, and technology in general. Plus Summer’s quickly approaching, so hopefully I’ll have some pictures of my motorcycle and any trips my wife and I take this summer up here soon.

I’m in Movember this November

Just like most of the men at my office, I’m participating in Movember this year, largely due to the razzing I got last year when I didn’t participate. Yes, I’ve succumbed to peer pressure…what would my mom say? At least it’s for a good cause. Of course, the first question I asked is “What’s Movember?” It’s a fundraising event for prostate cancer where men grow mustaches during the month of November.

While I can grow a mustache fairly well, I really don’t look good with one. So hopefully I won’t have too many pictures taken of me this month. And if you want me to feel better about it all so I don’t feel like it was a total waste, please head on over to my Movember profile page and donate a few bucks, or more.

As you can see, it’s a few days and it’s at a respectable and not-yet-annoying length. If you contribute, you get a vote on what style my mustache should be. I figure of I’m going to have nasty facial hair, I might as well go for it wholeheartedly. So donate to a good cause, frustrate my wife, and get a few good laughs in.

I really need to broaden my music horizons

AFI - Decemberunderground

You know that feeling when you listen to a song that you love so much, you re-play it 3 times in a row? You also know that feeling when people tell you “ZOMG you’ve gotta listen to, you’ll love it” and you say “yeah yeah, sure, sometime…” and you never bother ’till “sometime” eventually comes along, and you think “Why the hell didn’t I listen to this earlier?!” Well, I’m doing that right now with “Miss Murder” by AFI. I’m on my 3rd play through in a row, and I’m seriously considering starting it over…

And yes, the song just ended…and I just hit the “Skip Back” button on my iPhone. It’s playing once more. Yes, it is ridiculous. Yes, I know this song will be stuck in my head for the next week. But at this moment, I don’t particularly care.

One of my friends, Chris Prather, who’s been telling me for ages to listen to this album just called me a “newcomer”. Guilty as charged.

So if anyone has any “ZOMG You’ve gotta listen to this!” music recommendations, leave me a comment. I’ll make sure to listen to them sooner this time around.

Why, oh why did I ever leave California?

I love living in Canada, and I especially like living in Vancouver. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have a lovely wife, a great job, a wonderful city…what more could I ask for? Oh right, that’s it…warm weather! I’m not meant for frozen water falling from the sky, or bundling up into so many layers that I feel like an onion (or a parfait).

I don’t like the cold. I especially don’t like it when my office building thinks it’s still June. I felt warmer waiting in the snow for my bus this morning than I do right now at my desk.

When I was a kid I remember a few years we went down to the beach on Christmas Day. We didn’t go into the water, of course, but we were wearing shorts and t-shirts. BBQ, drinks, and party games on the sand. If I were to do that here, I’d freeze my nuts off.

Though it does look beautiful when seen through a window. My wife uses the cold weather as an excuse to go shopping and buy warm, and cute, clothes. Maybe I should do the same and should just stop complaining.