The product I want to see next week at WWDC – Apple TV 2014

Whoa! Hey!

Apple’s amazing World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) starts next Monday June 2  in San Francisco.  As a geek, it is truly an amazing week and the pinnacle pilgrimage for most of my Apple loving colleagues to attend.  I am quite thankful to have been one of the lucky 5000 that attended the last three years and have thoroughly enjoyed the time with fellow developers, the terrific product introductions, the excellent sessions, and the delicious seafood and biking within the beautiful city of San Francisco!   I have seen tremendous progress in developer tools.  I was there for Steve’s last keynote and introduction of iCloud.  We were there to see the introductions of iOS 5, iOS 6, iOS 7 and some of my favorite OS X updates including multi-touch gesture support, the fantastic magic trackpad, and AirPlay.  I even saw the Alex Skolnick Trio ditch real amps and jam thru an iPad in a nearby hotel lobby.  Yes, they were three fantastic years!

Sadly, I will not be boarding a plane this weekend.  I will not be biking the bridge and sniff sniff I will not be getting up at the crack of dawn this year to join the long line of fellow geeks eagerly waiting the infamous 10am Monday morning Keynote.  I do vow to return next year but for next week I will be watching every move and every announcement from our office in Ohio.  I will be sitting on the edge of my seat, streaming the live stream  with much anticipation and excitement.  Why?  Because I hope (and if you know me, you know I have been ranting about this for almost 2 years) that in these 90 minutes of product announcement euphoria we will finally see my dreams of the new Apple TV, SDK, and App Store come to fruition.   This is all of course in blunt ignorant defiance of the several recent rumors to the contrary.

Here are the simple and rather modest specs of my dream machine!

Note this picture is from my 720p model and yes I know I need to dust!photo-1-768x1024

Introducing!  The 2014 AppleTV set top box –

  • Design – no change
  • Memory –  32GB
  • Processor –  A7
  • Runs iOS 8
  • Proudly introducing the new App Store for AppleTV – finally play your latest candy crushing, zombie eating, farm animal game here!
  • 802.11ac (might as well update the Airport Express too or better yet just integrate it)
  • Price – $99

So there you have it.  I am not asking for too much!  Amazon has the Fire TV, Google is working on iteration x of y, and Roku yeah…  If you agree that this would be a splendid addition to Apple’s existing lineup, how about a RT, +1, shoutout, hell yeah, or whatever!

For those heading to dub dub next week, enjoy a truly stellar week! Please take at least some time to see the beautiful city and safe travels my friends!


Geeks with Guitars

Whoa! Hey!  If you stumbled on here from my other domain ( you are probably surprised and disappointed to see a collection of old articles about many things having nothing to do with guitars.  I am sorry for that but will defend a position that the AppleTV article is sadly still relevant as there is STILL no update to the device and just an increasing number of channels where an app store should be!  Hopefully that will change with WWDC2014 on June 2.

IMG_1547-1024x1024Back to the topic of guitars!  Months ago, I bought the domain hoping to someday build a community for all of my fellow geeks (developers, engineers, tech writers, gadget loving tech people) who also have a passion and talent for music.  With a wife in school, three kids, cat, new puppy, and a software company to help run I haven’t really had the time to build this out yet.


Today, I saw this nice article talking about the correlation between developers and guitar players and it reminded me again how cool it would be to have a special place for us to find each other, talk about the tech, guitars, and music we love and maybe find ways to jam at conferences, form international/long distance bands, etc.

If any of this sounds interesting, or if you have ideas for content, you want to help, you want to be featured, etc. hit me on twitter or send me a note!

— Jeremy


Apple TV more than just a hobby…it’s time for war!

photo-e1384323520132-660x1024Whoa! hey!

For the last couple of days I have been ranting more than usual on Twitter about the Apple TV. Why? Do I hate it?  Quite the contrary, I think it is a great box and over the last couple of years I have bought more than a half dozen of them as either gifts, for use in my home, or for business. They are a great little box for a great price and the time is ripe for them to mature beyond the “hobby” phase!

I know there are many of us who have grown to love the current capabilities of the Apple TV but are even more excited about the possibilities of what it could be! The changes that I am talking about are actually not that significant and until the last couple of days I have had fairly high expectations that we might see these before the holidays.

Here are the two major changes I have been hoping for:

1. Open up the API to developers and expand the App Store to the Apple TV
2. Do a small hardware refresh of the current Apple TV set top box

That is it! Just a couple little things–well the first request is a bit bigger but Apple should have enough engineers/magicians to pull that off!

You see, even though I am intrigued by what a full-scale Apple iTV might be or look like, I realize that the content is likely to continue to push that out for at least another year or two. Content is important to many but what I believe is more important is staking out the battle grounds now! Later this week, the PS4 will be here with the Xbox One to follow next week (unless you are one of the lucky few that they already shipped units too). Since WWDC, I have felt very strongly that Apple could really grab a large percentage of the gaming market just with these updates. I know, most gamers will think this is ludicrous but I am not talking about those types of games. I am talking about a logical extension to the games popular on iOS today that could have big benefits beyond AirPlay.

You see, there are a couple hundred thousand iOS developers who would love to have a new extension to their beloved platform of choice. They would love to push some slightly updated hardware to its limits for both games and entertainment. They can and would drive adoption!

So why have I been ranting on Twitter the last two days? Yesterday, there were reports that the Apple TV efforts have been delayed significantly to refocus priority on the wearable computing efforts. Today, new reports came out supporting this-noting that it may be due to reduced Apple TV sales in 2013.  I really think much of the reduced sales are people waiting for the hardware update. According to MacRumors, it has been 615 days since the last update. Apple, it seems like you may be big enough to squeeze in a minor update! You can even release it to the stores quietly like you did with the new retina mini.

What do we need from a hardware update? Not much! Bump the processor up but more importantly add enough memory for the apps we will want to install. It would also be great to add that new wireless chip for 802.11ac!

So what do you think?  Can we get these updates for the 2013 holiday season?  Can I and all of my iOS developer buddies start writing some great apps for an already excellent device?  Can the Plex folks put the app on the TV where it belongs instead of resorting to hacks?  Apple, the time is now to lay your claim to the big screens we already have!  Microsoft and Sony are ready for a full scale attack with this round and they would like to forever seal the fate of our beloved little black box.


The new iPad Air

As a mobile developer and tech enthusiast, I am thrilled to have the new iPad Air on launch day. I know unboxing videos are lame and everybody does them but I figured with all of the excitement, I would add my own lame unboxing video. I had recorded a song months ago that mostly turned out terrible but there was a brief part of it that I have been wanting to release. So…if nothing else this was a means to do that.


I haven’t spent much time with the new Air yet but I am so far very impressed. It is quite snappy as you should expect and it really does feel quite refreshing to use – just more balanced!

Introducing the new theme song – In the Swamp!

Whoa hey!

It sure has been a while! The other day I was messing around with the guitar and discovered a cool little riff I liked. I made some adjustments and it turned into a broader guitar track in GarageBand. I really don’t get a whole lot of time to mess around with GarageBand, so I hacked around adding another lead guitar track over the riff. It was a fun little jam but too fast and busy to write lyrics for so I just decided to experiment with some words about frogs that might be useful to help advertise this website. I captured all of this on the camera on the iPhone as I made progress and after a few minutes “In the Swamp” was born!


IMG_0878-1024x768I know this song is crazy and the words don’t make any sense at all. Some of you are probably wondering if I have lost my mind! 🙂 I spliced the videos I captured together and imported into Adobe Premier. I have a CS6 Creative Cloud subscription that I purchased for my company and since I focus primarily on software development, I hadn’t had a chance to mess with it much yet. I took a couple hours trying different things and spliced together my first original “music video”. It is a tribute to great 70’s/80’s hair bands and I hope you like it or at least crack a smile!

Bad PDF color rendering on iPad

Just a quick note today (since I haven’t written anything in months) about PDFs on the iPad. As part of my job, I get to work with some really awesome designers. In the last two apps we have occasionally noticed some issues with how colors appear when viewing a PDF on the iPad. This has only been an issue with a handful of PDF’s but if you have a product brochure that looks great in print we want to it look amazing on the screen as well.

In our particular case, we had a lot of purple tones that were appearing blue and pink tones that looked purple. The saturation also appeared more intense and while the images and text were crisp, the colors just looked slightly (or on some more severe occasions) completely off. If you have experienced this, apparently the iPad does not do a great job of rendering PDF’s designed and saved as CMYK.

Various attempts to fix it

I discovered several differing opinions on both the cause and resolution as I scoured the net. One suggestion was to open the pdf in Preview and re-export with the Quartz option to reduce file size. I tried that and it did not work. I also attempted creating custom filters in Apple’s ColorSync Utility. I still am guessing there is a way to make that work but my attempts failed.

Something that worked for me

Finally, I found a posting on a discussion board suggesting converting it to sRGB with Adobe Acrobat Pro. That fixed the problem! For my version of Acrobat, the option was found under View->Tools->Print Production. This brought up a side menu. The option that worked was under Preflight->Convert to sRGB. Double click that and save the corrected pdf.

As always, there are a lot of great ideas strung around discussion boards but sometimes you have to dig a bit to find something that works. Hope this helps someone get to a solution faster.

WWDC 2012 – Opening Day

Whoa! Hey! It has been a really long time since I have posted anything new and for that I am truly sorry. Looks like my last update was from The Big Nerd Ranch’s incredible Advanced iOS class near Atlanta. Interestingly, a few months later, I find that my next post is from the World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco – WWDC 2012.

Nearly 2500 miles and hundreds of hours of development time exist between these great developer experiences and I find myself working harder than ever developing new apps and crunching as much iOS knowledge as possible. I have a lot I would like to say about what I have been doing since my trip to the BNR but for now I want to focus on today’s Keynote.

Last year around this time, I was attending my very first WWDC and was able to see Steve Jobs do one of his last (if not the last) presentations. It was amazing to get to see and hear him live! His enthusiasm and presentation style can fully energize a room like none other that I know. I truly missed the way he would always save something special and spectacular for the end – “…one more thing.”

This morning we didn’t have Steve nor “one more thing”, but that didn’t stop the crowd. WWDC 2012 sold out in 1 hour and 43 minutes. Thanks to some great friends, I was one of the exuberant few who were fortunate to purchase a ticket.

This morning, I slept a bit later than I did on Keynote day last year but still joined the line 2.5 hours before show time. At that point it wrapped completely around the block surrounding Moscone West with many people already inside. Regardless, we slowly marched around the block to roughly where we had started over the next 2+ hours. The weather was beautiful with pure blue skies and tremendous amounts of hot sunshine which was in surprising stark contrast to last year’s weather.

Despite my late arrival to the line, I was fortunate enough to get into the main room and make my way up one side about half way up the room just a couple of minutes before a special introduction to the conference from Siri. The Siri intro was quite comical and set a great tone for Tim Cook to take the stage. Tim doesn’t yet have Steve’s presentational polish, but it was clear over the next couple of hours that he has successfully led the team of magic elves that reside in Cupertino. They have really been cooking some great stuff since WWDC2011.

Three main announcements were featured: updates to the Mac notebooks, updates to OS-X, and updates to iOS. All three had nuggets of goodness that caused many a developer to sit straight up on the edge of their seat.

The next generation MacBook Pro really is pretty amazing. Not only is it absolutely beautiful, the resolution and performance appear to be top notch. I really wish they had released this a month ago when I had to get a new MBP! The attention to detail and care in even the placement and efficiency of its fans received huge approval from the audience. It is hard to imagine running a screen with 2880×1800 resolution!

The Mountain Lion update for OS-X is set to arrive next month (July) and is only going to cost $19.99 to upgrade all of the computers in your household! The features of particular interest to me are full air-play support (I have two AppleTV’s and AirPort Express so big YAY), more iCloud integration, Reminders, and iMessage! With these changes, I may actually move to Reminders and off of Google Tasks. I have been wanting completely integrated reminder functionality across all of my devices for a long time! If your home computing and mobile ecosystem is completely Apple, you will really benefit from this release. Notification and Safari updates are pretty sweet too.

The area of most professional interest to me is the announcement of iOS6. As with Mountain Lion, there were more than 200 new features added. The biggest new feature here is a completely new mapping system. Google Maps has been replaced and while I was skeptical when I heard the earlier rumors, the demos today were amazing! We FINALLY get turn-by-turn directions but with Siri integration. I know my Google friends are laughing as they have had turn-by-turn for years. Regardless, the integration of features now has a very complete feel to it. When demoed, the progression of asking about restaurants, seeing the map complete with 3D flyover, and integration with Yelp for reviews and Open Table for reservations looks elegant and has that fluidity and user experience finesse that makes you feel like it has always existed and just works.

Well, I need to get to sleep as day two starts tomorrow! I have taken many pictures and will hopefully update this to share some shortly. Not sure if it will be this week as the wireless in our hotel is more than a bit spotty especially since it is full of people downloading the latest updates and betas.

Happy WWDC 2012 everyone!

Day 4 at the Ranch – Zip Line Day!

Yo big nerds!  Today was the last full day of training at the Big Nerd Ranch.  We jpbZiplineonly have a half day tomorrow before starting the long drive home and consequently this will probably be my last post on the topic.

For anyone considering training for iOS, advanced iOS, Python, Ruby on Rails, OpenGL, or Android I cannot recommend this place enough!  The week has truly been amazing!  You would think after all of the hours clocked behind this computer listening to instruction on advanced iOS topics I would be tired but I am still full of energy and excitement from the week.

The people here have been great.  I have tried to meet and talk to as many fellow classmates and instructors as possible and the discussions have been fantastic.  We have a surgeon, folks from the two biggest computer companies in the world, independents and entrepreneurs, companies big and small, etc.  They hail from all over the world and have converged upon these small cabins in the middle of nowhere Georgia to share stories and learn from the masters in iOS development.

Today’s topics included mapping a live video capture stream onto an OpenGL texture map, many demos from our classmates and teachers, UIScrollBar magic, and deeper looks at Grand Central Dispatch and the NSOperationQueue.  We had another late night session tonight as well on Computer Vision.  My list of “cool” app ideas and enhancements to my current apps has been growing all week.  If only I could figure out a way to skip sleeping!

If you have read my previous posts this week you may remember my fascination in those zip lines here at our class location – Historic Banning Mills.  This afternoon we took a break from studying and several of us got to do this!  I have to admit for the last hour leading up to the departure I was feeling pretty uneasy and anxious as I didn’t know what to expect.  My nerves were getting the best of me.  Somehow I ended up being the last in our group to go down the first wire but WOW what a RUSH!  The wind and the height and the speed!!!  For our very first run we “flew” over the Snake Creek in the gorge far below.  I didn’t see it too well because I was clinging to the straps for my life but about part way thru I realized THIS IS REALLY FUN!!!

Next up we did a series of sky bridges that I actually found a bit more stressful than the high speed run.  We climbed from tree to tree across bridges of less and less material.  What the heck?  DId they run out of wood boards? Did they use IMG_1027-768x1024them all up building those massive towers?  🙂  Nope just part of the challenge.  Many times we were only walking on single cables but I have to admit it really was fun!  I even jumped up and down in the middle of one of them!

Anyway, thanks to the folks at the Big Nerd Ranch, the folks at Banning Mills and the Screaming Eagle Zip Line Tour for a truly memorable and incredible week!  I really hope I can come back for another class in the future – maybe OpenGL or some more advanced Mac development stuff…

Time to go pack up my stuff so we can leave tomorrow…



Day 3 at the ranch – Development is exciting again! Bezier Curves, FFTs, Matrices oh my!

Time for my end of day ponderings for day 3 at the Big Nerd Ranch.

I thought about this a bit yesterday but today it really struck me.  This class and really the power that the iOS framework provides really taps into every major point of interest I have in software development and technology.  I have not gotten to think about some of the concepts we have discussed here since my days studying electrical engineering at UC or my time at ITI working with graphics modeling and Open Inventor.  For me, this week has truly been a wonderous trip down memory lane.  I feel like I am in the Land of Oz.  Thanks to the instructors – Jonathon Blocksom, Jonathon Saggau, and Michael Ward for that trip!

While we have covered the Cocoa frameworks in a broad, sweeping sense, the Jon’s and Mikey have added interesting historical viewpoints and perspectives.  Bezier curves and surface normals take me back to fond memories struggling with the challenges of writing CAD/CAM data translation software and 3D model viewers.  Those days were really the most challenging and fun in my career and while I still have fun today, I miss some of that excitement!  I left the engineering software realm  to go into corporate IT web development many years ago.  Now with my present focus on mobile development and the driving market forces of the day I find that I may be ready to go full circle.

How and why?  Demands for advancement in software development in the corporate IT field used to drudge along – typically held back by operations and security teams not wanting to move forward so as to protect things the way they are.  With so many people now owning iPhones, iPads, and Android devices consumer expectations towards technology and above all the user experience has totally changed.  This demand will drive us in the IT field to do better! The boring days of Windows and the status quo are thankfully over!  Note this is an opinion piece and certainly I am sure some of you have a different one.  Regardless, it is my belief that the opportunity to develop really cool, engaging, and challenging apps will now be forced upon every business entity or the consumers will simply move somewhere else.  So to the simple, boring, 1980s style web forms and ugly web pages of the 90s I bid you adieu.  To developers without passion, you are going to miss out on a lot of fun!

Today one Jonathan led us thru the power of OpenGL ES and GLKit.  Yes I know OpenGL has been around for years, but most developers have never had to worry about it.  Unless you are writing video games why would you care?  Again, I can see a lot of people caring about this a whole bunch as we are forced to develop solutions that become more engrossing and more 3D.  Good grief Dominoes Pizza even has a game now.  I have been looking forward to a business need to get back to 3D development and this is it!

FFTs?  What is that?  Fast Fourier Transforms are something I haven’t looked at since my Signals and Systems class at UC.  I use pitch shifting (just one of many uses for FFTs) quite a bit as a musician but never had the chance to work on incorporating that into a development project until yesterday.  Again, it was great to have this discussion appear in the class.  The possibility and capability afforded by today’s consumer grade hardware is truly astounding!

More than anything this week I have began to appreciate the parallels at the technical level between two of my favorite things – audio (MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC!) and video and the power that Apple’s collection of frameworks has given today’s developer to create new things using both.  The mathematics using linear algebra, modifications with filter chaining, and low level patterns for hardware acceleration are common to both.  I haven’t been this energized about development for many, many years!  It was pretty hard to get excited about SOAP and EJBs.  Yesterday I tweeted that I had spent more time in this computer lab than any other time since college and I have truly enjoyed every minute of it.

The one sad note for the day…  It rained so unfortunately no afternoon hike and thus no new pictures.

Day 2 at the Ranch

So day 2 of class content has wrapped up and I am moving onto my other work and taking a moment to update this.  Today’s class felt a lot less exhausting.  It could be because I slept better last night.  However I really think the content, meals, and surprises of the day kept us energized.

Today was pretty much fantastic all the way around!  Not only did we cover Core Audio which is a topic that I am extremely interested in due to my musical background, but this afternoon the founder and leader of the Big Nerd Ranch IMG_1011-1024x768dropped by as a special guest to teach Quartz.  Yes it was the chief – Aaron Hillegass.  In terms of classroom training I have to say this course really has been world class!

The food today was truly OUTSTANDING for every meal.  Breakfast was as good as yesterday with that same delicious bacon that I am already looking forward to having again tomorrow.  Lunch was PASTA!!!  If you know me, you know how much I love pasta (red sauce only of course)!  It was great!  Tonight’s dinner was also fantastic and the best meal yet.  It was flank steak, some of those excellent little red potatoes, and the best asparagus I have ever eaten.  While eating, I came to realize that I have probably had more vegetables this week than any other time in my life.  I have had salad for lunch and dinner every day and vegetables on the side.  I hope my wife is reading this and is proud of my well roundedness!  🙂  For dessert tonight we had a delicious cherry cobbler thing.  I’m usually not into cobbler but this was quite good.

IMG_1013-768x1024Today’s hike was quite a bit longer than yesterday which was quite cool as the weather was beautiful.  It was also led by Mr. H.  We walked past several more of the scary zip-line stands and today there were people on them.  I had no idea they could move that fast – up to 60 miles an hour.  YIKES!  Many of these lines cross the big stream and are several feet up.  Check out the pictures.  I was told on the hike that the folks here pride themselves on having one of the best zip courses in the world.  It is a truly a sight to behold.


So now more about the technical parts of the day.  Again we covered a lot.  This morning was quite a bit of very low level stuff from Core Audio.  We did some real time voice effects and then later some pitch modulation.  I have always wanted to look into audio processing on the iPhone but never gotten around to it.  There are many options for getting sound out of an iOS device and the option we looked at today was about as low level as it gets since we were recording and playing back plus modifying that stream in real time.  Consequently the amount of boiler plate looking code to do all of this was PDU (pretty damned ugly).

This afternoon we focused a lot of time on Quartz, Core Text, and printing (air print).  The exercises here were great but again required a lot of low level coding.  Aaron led this section and showed us the Objective-C APIs followed by the C ones.  The C ones are what we focused on as they appear to have the most power but man are some of the interface calls ugly!

For example, some of the core text function calls require a CFDictionaryRef.  Creating it is the ugliest thing I have seen yet in iOS development.

CFDictionaryRef attrs = CFDictionaryCreate(kCFAllocatorDefault,
                     (const void**)&keys,
                     (const void**)&values, 2,

I love OO development – Objective-C, Python, Groovy, and Java and thought I had pretty much seen the last of C years ago when I was writing CAD/CAM software but today proved that I was wrong!  As you have now seen we had to mix C, C++, and Objective-C in today’s exercises.  Yes folks malloc and free still are still in heavy use even in 2012.  I would like to see Apple improve and simplify some of this stuff though.  I’ll be anxious to see what they announce at the next WWDC.

Anyway, day 2 rocked!