In case you were wondering how long you could keep on using macOS 10.14 “Mojave” as a developer targeting any Apple OS, the answer is “not too much longer.” I was presented with the dialog box above when trying to run the beta for Xcode 11.4 on my MacBook running Mojave.

I was doing all this as part of updating The iOS Apprentice, 8th Edition, a great book for people who want to get started building iOS apps. It’s available in both electronic and dead-tree formats, and when you buy an edition, you get updates of that edition for free!

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Technology bias

by Joey deVilla on February 17, 2020

While reading What to Do When Machines Do Everything during lunch, I ran into the paragraph above, which proposes a technological solution to American students’ low academic scores compared to those of students from other advanced nations. I think it’s rather telling about the authors’ technology bias that they go straight to a tech solution rather than suggesting that it might be a good idea to borrow some ideas from the educators and school systems in those other countries.

Hey, I like tech as much as the next techie, but there are many times and places where lower-tech solutions are far more cost-effective.

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Me, looking at the code written by the previous developer

by Joey deVilla on February 16, 2020

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It’s going to be a busy week in Tampa Bay, with the Synapse Summit taking place at the start of the week. Even if it weren’t happening, there’d still be lots to do — the scene here is growing in leaps and bounds. Make sure you get out there, catch an event that interests you, learn something, and make connections and friends!

Here’s what’s happening in Tampa Bay this week!

This weekly list is posted as a voluntary service to the Tampa tech community. With the notable exceptions of Tampa iOS Meetup and Coders, Creatives and Craft Beer — both of which I run — most of this information comes from Meetup.com, EventBrite, and other local event announcement sites. I can’t guarantee the accuracy of the dates and times listed here; if you want to be absolutely sure that the event you’re interested in is actually taking place, please contact the organizers!

News: Imagining possibilities

Synapse Summit 2020

Synapse Summit 2020 has come and gone, and the third iteration of the annual conference can be judged a success. With a reported 7,000 registrations, a great keynote appearance by Sara Blakely, and gathering the bright lights of the Tampa Bay tech and entrepreneur scenes in one place at the same time, I think it’s safe to say that it’s now a well-established regular ritual, and that’s a great thing.

In case you missed some of the local reports on Synapse Summit 2020, I’ve gathered a few below:

In all those conversations, I argued that It is true that the Summit is Tampa Bay’s tech scene collectively tooting its own horn. There’s nothing wrong with that. While it doesn’t directly solve some serious problems in Tampa Bay, it is a necessary piece of their solutions. Showcase events like Synapse Summit are necessary, because they show us, the region, the country, and the world, that great tech things are happening in Tampa Bay. They help us recognize the strides we’ve already made in the area, and encourage us to continue. They bring together our local tech scene, and create the connections and collaborations necessary for innovation. They make people beyond the Bay think “Hey, maybe I should make my way down to the Suncoast.”

Simply put, events like Synapse Summit lead us to do one of the most important questions in science, technology, and community: to imagine possibilities.

Tampa Bay Metro: The post that struck a nerve

Last week, I posted a map of a hypothetical Tampa Bay Metro system on my personal blog. Such a thing — five major rapid transit lines spanning Tampa Bay, Old Tampa Bay, and surrounding areas — will likely never see the light of day, but wow, did it get a lot of attention and response! With thousands of views on both my LinkedIn account and the blog, it seems to have struck a nerve.

I think it’s another data point for my Synapse Summit argument — sometimes, you need something inspirational, even if it doesn’t immediately solve any problems. I like the idea that the map is inspiring people to think about the possibilities.

View the post (and see a link where you can buy the map as a poster) here.

Ignite Tampa Bay 2020: Speak or sponsor; this is your chance!

If you have an idea — especially one that exists only in the world of ideas right now, but could be a reality in the future if we decide that we want to make it real — your chance to share that idea and inspire people to make it real is coming soon! Ignite Tampa Bay, which I like to refer to as “Tapas-sized TED talks”, is happening on Thursday, April 16th in St. Pete. If you’d like to speak or sponsor the event, go to the Ignite Tampa Bay site and sign up!

This week’s events

Monday, February 17

On Monday, OK! Transmit, the art and technology meetup in St. Pete, is holding the first of their Luminous Art Meetups, where you can learn how to build your own LED (light-emitting diode) circuits to create beautiful animated light art. You’ll need to bring stuff — an Arduino Uno, a laptop to program your LEDs, and a USB A/B cable — but the results will be worth it.

Tuesday, February 18

Suncoast Credit Union and the Tampa Bay Tech4Good MeetUp will team up on Tuesday to host a Tech Security Fair. The fair will feature 4 topics/tables include:

  1. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery – this will provide plans to ensure your business/nonprofit survives in the case of a disaster, security breach, etc.
  2. End Point Security – volunteers will help you understand what malware and anti-virus mean, and give recommendations on what tools you should look into to protect yourself from digital threats.
  3. Password Management – you’ll learn best practices to ensure you have a password that will prevent being hacked, and learn about multi-authentication.
  4. Information Security – learn everything you need to protect your key information and platforms, such as your Data, Websites, Internet, Wifi, etc.

Wednesday, February 19

If your schedule doesn’t allow for after-work gatherings, how about a before-work one, such as the UX Coffee Talk on Wednesday morning? Meet the people at Tampa Bay UX Group and discuss usability, user interface, and user experience topics in the “lean coffee” format!

Thursday, February 20

High Tech Connect’s next get-together happens on Thursday at the Microsoft office. On the agenda are High Tech Connect’s new job board, along with presentations by Microsoft, MiSource (staffing), Atmos Effect (a . startup), and the Children’s Cancer Center.

Friday, February 21

Friday’s Tampa Bay Kanban meetup is about dispelling the myth that Kanban is only good for [ insert domain here ]. It’s actually applicable in all sorts of fields, and you’ll learn that it’s good for anyone who is overburdened and have lack of transparency for the work they need to do.

Saturday, February 22

Sunday, February 23

Do you have an upcoming event that you’d like to see on this list?

If you know of an upcoming event that you think should appear on this list, please let me know!

Join the mailing list!

If you’d like to get this list in your email inbox every week, enter your email address below. You’ll only be emailed once a week, and the email will contain this list, plus links to any interesting news, upcoming events, and tech articles.

Join the Tampa Bay Tech Events list and always be informed of what’s coming up in Tampa Bay!


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The truth about programming for Apple platforms

by Joey deVilla on February 14, 2020

This is old news to iOS/macOS/iPadOS/watchOS developers, but it’s worth repeating. That’s all right; I’d rather code in Swift than Objective-C.

Given the fight between Google and Oracle, I’m certain that if Google was the mother in the comic, Java would be Objective-C and Kotlin would be Swift.

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If the 4 major mobile providers in the US were cast as the four houses at Hogwarts, Sprint would certainly be Hufflepuff. And not top-tier Hufflepuff, either, but their remedial class. In the Parade of Losers, Sprint are the baton twirlers:

Sprint’s satisfaction ratings are so low that even Boost Mobile has higher scores than they do.

On the other hand, T-Mobile (full disclosure: I’m a happy customer) consistently has the highest satisfaction scores.

I’m certain I’m not the only person asking this question about the merger that was just rubber-stamped: Forget about 5G for a moment — will combining the two make Sprint better, or T-Mobile worse?

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How to “work the room” at Synapse Summit 2020

by Joey deVilla on February 10, 2020

Synapse Summit 2020, Tampa Bay’s annual technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation conference will bring thousands of people to Amalie Arena — and all sorts of opportunities to meet up with them.

It’s been my experience that some of the most important things I’ve learned and all the connections I’ve made at conferences didn’t happen at the presentations. Instead, they happened between presentations — in the hallways, lounges, lunches, and social gatherings, where I had the chance to chat with the speakers, organizers, and the other attendees. This observation is so common that it’s given rise to “unconferences” like BarCamp, whose purpose is to invert the order of things so that the conference is more “hallway” than “lecture theatre”.

It’s especially important to talk to people you don’t know or who are outside your usual circle. Books like The Tipping Point classify acquaintances with such people as “weak ties”. Don’t let the word “weak” make you think they’re unimportant. As people outside your usual circle, they have access to a lot of information, people, and opportunities that you don’t. That’s why most people get jobs through someone they know, and of those cases, most of the references came from a weak tie. The sorts of opportunities that come about because of this sort of relationship led sociologist Mark Granovetter to coin the phrase “the strength of weak ties”.

The best way to make weak ties at a conference is to work the room. If the phrase sounds like sleazy marketing-speak and fills your head with images of popped collars and wearing too much body spray, relax. Working the room means being an active participant in a social event and contributing to it so that it’s better for both you and everyone else. Think of it as good social citizenship.

If you’re unsure of how to work the room, I’ve got some tips that you might find handy…

Have a one-line self-introduction

A one-line self-introduction is simply a single-sentence way of introducing yourself to people you meet at a conference. It’s more than likely that you won’t know more than a handful of attendees and introducing yourself over and over again, during the conference, as well as its post-session party events. It’s a trick that Susan RoAne, room-working expert and author of How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Making Lasting Connections In-Person and Online teaches, and it works. It’s pretty simple:

  • Keep it short — no longer than 10 seconds, and shorter if possible. It’s not your life story, but a pleasantry that also gives people just a little bit about who you are.
  • Make it fit. It should give people a hint of the cool stuff that you do (or, if you’re slogging it out in the hopes of doing cool stuff someday, the cool stuff that you intend to do.)
  • Show your benefits. Rather than simply give them your job title, tell them about a benefit that your work provides in a way that invites people to find out more. Susan RoAne likes to tell a story about someone she met whose one-liner was “I help rich people sleep at night”. That’s more interesting than “I’m a financial analyst”.

My intro these days is something along the lines of “I’m a rock and roll accordion player, but in my side gig, I’m a mobile/wearable/AR app developer who builds apps for Lilypad, Tampa’s coolest software company.”

How to join a conversation

At Synapse Summit 2020, you’ll probably see a group of people already engaged in a conversation. If this is your nightmare…

Click the photo to read the Onion article.

…here’s how you handle it:

  1. Pick a lively group of people you’d like to join in conversation. As people who are already in a conversation, they’ve already done some of the work for you. They’re lively, which makes it more likely that they’re open to people joining in. They’ve also picked a topic, which saves you the effort of having to come up with one. It also lets you decide whether or not it interests you. If they’re lively and their topic of conversation interests you, proceed to step 2. If not, go find another group!
  2. Stand on the periphery and look interested. Just do it. This is a conference, and one of the attendees’ goals is to meet people. Smile. Pipe in if you have something to contribute; people here are pretty cool about that.
  3. When acknowledged, step into the group. You’re in like Flynn! Step in confidently and introduce yourself. If you’ve got that one-line summary of who you are that I talked about earlier, now’s the time to use it.
  4. Don’t force a change of subject. You’ve just joined the convo, and you’re not campaigning. Contribute, and let the subject changes come naturally.

Feel free to join me in at any conversational circle I’m in! I always keep an eye on the periphery for people who want to join in, and I’ll invite them.

More tips

Here’s more advice on how to work the room:

  1. Be more of a host and less of a guest. No, you don’t have to worry about scheduling or if the coffee urns are full. By “being a host”, I mean doing some of things that hosts do, such as introducing people, saying “hello” to wallflowers and generally making people feel more comfortable. Being graceful to everyone is not only good karma, but it’s a good way to promote yourself. It worked out really well for me; for example, I came to the first DemoCamp (a regular Toronto tech event back in the 2000s) as a guest, but by the third one, I was one of the people officially hosting the event.
  2. Beware of “rock piles”. Rock piles are groups of people huddled together in a closed formation. It sends the signal “go away”. If you find yourself in one, try to position yourself to open up the formation.
  3. Beware of “hotboxing”. I’ve heard this term used in counter-culture settings, but in this case “hotboxing” means to square your shoulders front-and-center to the person you’re talking to. It’s a one-on-one version of the rock pile, and it excludes others from joining in. Once again, the cure for hotboxing is to change where you’re standing to allow more people to join in.
  4. Put your stuff down. Carrying your bag or other stuff is a non-verbal cue that you’re about to leave. If you’re going to stay and chat, put them down. When you’re about to leave, take your stuff and start saying your goodbyes.
  5. Show and tell. Nothing attracts our eyes like shiny, whether it’s an interesting pieces of tech, a new book, a new t-shirt you’re fond of, or even some local knowledge, such a new restaurant, cafe, or bar that just opened. It’s why I carry my accordion around; I think of it as a device that converts curiosity into opportunity (and music as well). Got an interesting thing or idea? Got a neat project that you’ve been working on? Whatever it is, park yourself someplace comfortable in the hallway, show it off and start a conversation!
  6. Save the email, tweets and texts for later, unless they’re important.They’ll draw your attention away from the room and also send the message “go away”.
  7. Mentor. If you’ve got skills in a specific area, share your knowledge. Larry Chiang from GigaOm says that “It transitions nicely from the what-do-you-do-for-work question. It also adds some substance to party conversations and clearly brands you as a person.”
  8. Be mentored. One of the reasons you go to Synapse Summit is to get exposed to new ideas. As I said earlier, learning goes beyond the talks. Try to learn three new things at every event.
  9. Play “conversation bingo”. If there are certain topics that you’d like to learn about or people you’d like to have a conversation with, put them in a list (mental, electronic or paper) of “bingo” words. As you converse at the conference, cross off any of those topics that you cover off the list. This trick forces you to become a more active listener and will help you towards your learning goals. Yelling “BINGO!” when you’ve crossed the last item on the list can be done at your discretion.

The “How to work a room” poster

If you want to learn how to work the room and prefer absorbing your information from graphics, you may find this poster helpful:

Click the poster to see it at full size.

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