Case Khor

Yo secure $1.2 million in funding

Jordan Crook offers his 2¢ on Yo:

I’m going to go ahead and place my bets early […] and say that Yo will have dropped out of our collective consciousness by next year. But that’s not to say we should write it off as a silly gimmick.

The brief popularity of Yo is a signal of a larger trend. Software developers are today tasked with a bigger problem than convenience or accessibility or distribution. The line between our physical lives and the lives we lead in our minds, with our thumbs, on a touchscreen, is rapidly fading. Yo may be just a touch too basic (bitch) to last for the long haul, or perhaps Yo is the beginning of a new era in push notifications. But apps that integrate pieces of our real-world lives are just settling in for a long stay.

The API possibilities intrigue me but I can see this rapidly becoming really annoying. I too am betting on it fading away.

Edit: Well that escalated (unsurprisingly) quickly.

iOS Developers Need to Know Objective-C

I took a deep breath and dived into Objective-C just over a month ago. My first serious attempt at learning a “real” programming language, I seem to be making decent progress and finding the challenge fairly enjoyable. Naturally I freaked out a bit post WWDC 2014 Keynote. Am I wasting my time? Should I drop Objective-C and attempt to start learning Swift straight off Apple's ebook?

Aaron Hillegass take on it reaffirms my self-assurance that Objective-C is still the place to start:

If you want to be an iOS developer, you will still need to know Objective-C. Objective-C is easier to learn than Swift. Once you know Objective-C, it will be easy to learn Swift. […] Honestly, it doesn't matter which you learn first; eventually you will know both languages.

Phew, I guess.

The Creator Of Doom Is Now A Facebook Employee

Facebook just announced its plan to buy Oculus VR for around $2 billion in cash and stock. The company will operate independently within Facebook with a focus on gaming. Facebook communications confirmed to TechCrunch that everyone stays the same at Oculus and John Carmack will remain Oculus’ CTO.

Why might Facebook be interested in the future of virtual reality? Here’s a little something Carmack wrote 14 years ago on Slashdot:

Making Snow Crash into a reality feels like a sort of moral imperative to a lot of programmers, but the efforts that have been made so far leave a lot to be desired. It is almost painful for me to watch some of the VRML initiatives. It just seems so obviously the wrong way to do something. All of this debating, committee forming, and spec writing, and in the end, there isn't anything to show for it. Make something really cool first, and worry about the spec after you are sure it's worth it!

Bring on the Metaverse, with Carmack in tow we might actually see a Second Life that does’t suck. Or maybe not. In the short-term, I hope the acquisition does’t derail any of Occulus’ efforts with regard to virtual reality beyond social-networking.

Supreme × Playboy Vans S/S 2014

Supreme x Playboy Vans S:S 2014.jpg

The App Store economy: Take the money and run

Jon Bell of UX Launchpad wrote a little piece on his time at Real Networks a decade ago and John Gruber chimed in:

Once you’re backed into a corner like this, where your users’ happiness and satisfaction are no longer aligned with your revenue, you’ve already lost.

Which reminded me about this post by David Barnard back in January:

While the current wave of free-to-play games are doing incredibly well financially, I worry that they are undermining the long-term strength of the iOS platform.

If the apps Apple brags about and features aren’t financially viable, we will inevitably see less of those apps being built over time.

And quotes within his post, a link to a tweet from Justin Williams

The post-PC revolution won't happen without the software that the current App Store economy makes it nearly impossible to build and sustain.

From the Android camp there‘s been a tonne of criticism dished out over Apple heavy-handed control of the App Store. To the dissenters it’s not “open” enough and too restrictive.

To me, and a few others it would seem, Apple does‘t apply enough control, and the App Store is filled to the brim with crapware, to the point where I‘ve completely stopped browsing the App Store in search of new apps.

Over a 24 hour period, Flappy Bird clones made up a third of newly released iOS games. But at the end of the day that’s how the App Store gold rush works now: get in, go viral, take the money and run. (Am I just kidding myself here, has it been that way from the start?) iOS devices create an economy that targets the lowest common denominator (a more profitable one compared to that for Android devices where users drop less dollars on apps) and just like with any other mass media, the appeal of making a quick buck triumphs over crafting quality.

Don’t push me

David Smith writes:

First run experiences are important. They set the tone for your customer’s experience with your app. I know lots of developers who spend days and weeks carefully crafting every detail of the first time you open their app. It should invite you in and make you feel at home.

The opposite of a great first run experience is a trend I’ve started seeing more and more within the App Store. Upon first run of the app I’m immediately greeted with [a request to allow the app to send push notifications to the user].

“[App name] would like to send you push you push notifications” and similar prompts are the iOS equivalent of User Account Control (UAC). An arguably necessary evil? Incredibly annoying nonetheless.

Hover being a tiny bit naugthy?

Decided to go ahead and register titanfall.io and went to my favourite domain domain registrar to make it so. Joy, .io top-level domains are on sale!

What customers might not pick up on is that the annual fee for .ios domains are significantly higher than the average .com domains. They also don't allow you to pay for more than a year at the discounted price. Fair enough, I'm happy to save $50 off my first year, but I’m wondering how many people will suffer from bill shock in 12 months time.

To their credit, Hover does outline the sale alongside the regular prices on their blog. I did however, have to go poking it for that info.

Side note: .io TLDs don’t support whois privacy, which makes me a little sad/afraid. Not sure if this is a Hover specific thing or whether it applies to .io in general.

Update: Hover’s canned reply: “We include WHOIS Privacy on all TLDs that support it.”

Dark Souls II might be the second best game in the world

After Dark Souls, according to Peter Serafinowivz, who I don’t think I’ve heard of. And my friend Peter, who keeps interrupting our conversations about Titanfall to talk about Dark Souls.

You’re this poor wretched person … you’re just trying to get by you know? It’s like life.

First time I’ve been interested in giving Dark Souls a go, but I’m not entirely sure I’m willing to give up a chunk of my life for it …

Remember the Milk.dk

Milk_Classic_Alu_Mac.jpg

I remember swooning over the classic Milk desk when it launched 7 years ago in 2007. Once described as “like a giant iPod desk”, the design hasn't aged one bit and I’d still love to have one today, or any member of the Milk family for that matter.

Couple.me please don’t kill my vibe.

My partner made the move to London in September last year, and so far we’ve weathered the whole long-distance thing pretty well. It’s a move that she’s been planning for a long time, before we met, and I’d never consider being the one to keep her from going. In fact I actively encouraged her: I learnt so much simply from moving to Australia from Singapore solo in 2000.

The 11 hour time difference is pretty brutal, but a few ground rules and a couple of hacks have kept us sane. Couple, an “app for two” has played a part in that: it’s been nice to have a priority inbox of sorts, the recently introduced web app is great and thumb kiss is actually pretty cute although the novelty kind wore off after the initial separation anxiety faded.

Right off the bat, Couple felt slightly bloated. The app tries to be a complete “virtual relationship management’ solution for couples, complete with todo lists and date scheduling. Thanks to the iOS app’s streamlined and inoffensive interface this is fine, and the bloat never bothers me. But those sticker packs they try to get you to buy every time you accidentally tap the sticker key on the virtual keyboard, boy are they hideous. A recent update brings … more glorious stickers! And adds a notification in the burger menu that I can’t get rid of until I view every single free sticker. Awesome, thanks TenthBit!

Which brings to mind Jim Goetz’s post on the Sequoia Capital tumblr:

Jan keeps a note from Brian taped to his desk that reads “No Ads! No Games! No Gimmicks!” It serves as a daily reminder of their commitment to stay focused on building a pure messaging experience.

TenthBit maybe cut the crap and consider charging us for the service instead? Or at least give us a way to opt out …

Facebook Buying Messaging App WhatsApp for $16 Billion

The purchase, $4 billion in cash plus $12 billion in Facebook shares and potential for an additional $3 billion in employee stock payouts, will see WhatsApp founder Jan Koum joining Facebook's board of directors.

It finally happened. Facebook has been trying to replace mobile instant message platforms with Messenger for quite a while now, and it looks like they’ve finally admitted defeat. Mark Zuckerberg and co haven’t (yet) ruined Instagram, so here’s to hoping Whatsapp will remain usable for the foreseeable near-future.

iCloud blues please don’t kill my vibe

While users have been getting pretty worked up over iCloud from day one, the service has worked rather painlessly for me: apart from the usual teething issues of getting a service like this up running from day one, I thought Apple had done an ok job.

Early this year I started getting an error with Clear on both my iMac and my iPhone:

iCloud Refresh Failed: Clear could not refresh your lists due to missing data in iCloud. If the issue persists, please contact support.

I put the blame on Clear, and contacted the Real Mac Software team. I re-synced Clear’s documents in my iCloud account, and all was well, until it happened again. This time I just gave up on Clear.

Fast forward to today when I saved a couple of documents in iA Writer, booted up my Mac Book Pro hoping to to see the documents pop up there. They didn’t. Opened iA Writer on my iPhone and they were’t there either. I created a test document on my iPhone and it showed up immediately on my Mac Book Pro, but never on my iMac. I realised iCloud syncing on my iMac was borked. As far as I know, turning iCloud off and on and re-syncing all the iCloud data is the only solution available to me, and I will more than likely lose any data from my iMac that hasn't been successfully synced to iCloud. There’s no force to fetch new data functionality or anything similar.

Like most Apple products, iCloud is a breeze when it works well, and becomes impossible when it doesn’t.

Update: Signed in and out of iCloud and now the iMac appears to be in sync. Clear is still not happy though and I will likely need to go through the process of resetting each device so the apps are happy that the data is identical across all devices as well as in iCloud.

10¹² Terra

Hydro 150 100 Handmade

The name of the brand “[ 10¹² ] TERRA” was inspired by the number of cells produced per day (10¹²) and glass cases called terrarium, made for collecting and showcasing plants.

In another life I would love to have been an object designer. Not to say there still isn’t time/room for that in this life.

Cold showers and being uncomfortable

More of that life hacking motivational stuff, but this snippet from Joel Runyon's TEDxLUC talk is food for thought:

If you’re not willing or able to be the type of person, that is willing to be uncomfortable for 5 mins alone in the shower, where the only negative outcome is you being cold for 5 mins, and the only person affected by that decision is you, then how will you ever have the strength or the courage to choose to be uncomfortable in a situation where the outcomes are much much greater, and the people affected by your decision far outnumber just yourself.

I’m well familiar with the health the benefits of taking a cold shower (strengthened immune system, fat loss, increased energy levels, etc), but I got lazy and stopped subjecting myself to them. It’s time to get back into it. Part of my decision to pack up and leave Sydney was that I was getting way too comfortable here – seeing as my first stop is Singapore, where the tap water temperature is way too tepid to count as a cold shower, I think I’m due for some cold water therapy over the next couple of months before I leave.

Buy a house, they said. See the world, I said.

Buy property they say, get your foot in the market. Don't pay off someone else's mortgage. Don't fund somebody else's investment. Don't pay rent and make someone else rich. Well if you follow that logic, why work for anyone but yourself? Why fund someone else's yacht when you could be investing in yourself? Why stay back late and come in on the weekends to build someone else's business?

Yes there is security in full-time employment, but is there really? If they lose the account you’ve been slaving away on, is your job safe? The cheque at the end of the month (or week) is reassuring, but is it always going to be there for you? Some people choose investing in property and shares, placing their bets on the market, or profiting off someone else's ideas. I prefer to invest in myself.

One of my aunts gave me a fair piece of advice, trying to encourage me to enter the property market:

Start small but you have to start somewhere. The first property you buy might not be great, but now you have something to work with.

I prefer to apply that approach to an idea and watch that idea grow.

Buying property, either to live in or as an investment, has traditionally been seen as a smart move, a safe bet. I’ve seen too many cases of people being stuck with houses they can’t rent/sell, or people cashing out barely making a profit for all their troubles.

Not everyone afford to start something on their own. Some people need regular income, and someone else to impose routine on them. And it is painful to see money “disappear” every month while renting, and it is easy to envy those who have “made it” and bought their first place, those who have bought themselves a piece of the pie.

Renting gives me options. It allows me to take risks and let my bank balance go dangerously close to red. This year renting allows me to not rent, to get up and go and live nomadically, to worry less about earning money and worry more about self-initiated projects and new ideas. A life choice that people I’ve spoken to about envy but are unwilling or incapable of choosing.

Eventually I do intend to buy myself a place, but it will be a place to call home, a place to live and call my own. It will not be something to put my money into in the hopes that it will pay off, while I slave away for somebody else.