January 2016

Snoop Dogg files the most gangsta bug report ever

by Joey deVilla on January 14, 2016

Annoyed by the January 13, 2016 XBox Live outage, gangsta rapper Calvin Broadus, Jr., better known as Snoop Dogg (is he not going by Snoop Lion anymore?), took to Instagram to vent. It’s in the video above, and be warned, he cusses, as one does when angry and keepin’ it real.

A couple of thoughts:

  • I get the feeling that for the next little while, a number of bug reports and unit testing failure messages will end with the line “Fix yo’ shit, man!”
  • This is an amazing example of William Gibson’s line “the street finds its own uses for things”.

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downward pc trend

Gartner announced that worldwide PC shipments dropped considerably in 2015:

  • Shipments for the fourth quarter of 2015 were 75.7 million units, an 8.3% drop from the number shipped in 4Q 2014, and
  • shipments for the entire year of 2015 were 288.7 million units, an 8% drop from the number shipped for all of 2014.

Their preliminary 2015 shipment estimates for vendors worldwide show that the top 6 vendors by shipment all experienced a drop in shipments (randing from 3% to 11%) with one notable exception — Apple, who say a nearly 3% growth:

worldwide pc shipments 4q14 vs 4q15

Click the graph to see it at full size.

In the United States, vendors fared a little better. While the top two vendors, HP and Dell, saw shrinkage (especially HP, whose 4Q shipments dropped 8.5 from the previous year’s number), Apple and Lenovo made significant gains (a decent 6.5% and a stunning 21.1%, respectively), and Asus stayed even:

us pc shipments 4q14 vs 4q15

Click the graph to see it at full size.

We’ve been seeing this trend for some time. Global PC sales peaked in 2011 with just over 365 million units, and since then, sales have been cooling at an average rate of just under 6% per year:

global pc sales 8-year low

Click the graph to see it at full size.

IDC have released similar numbers, but their reported drop in worldwide PC shipments is even bigger: 10.6%, with the observation that “he year-on-year decline in 2015 shipments was nevertheless the largest in history, surpassing the decline of -9.8% in 2013.”

IDC cites a number reasons for the drop in PC shipments, which include:

  • Longer PC lifecycles,
  • falling commodity prices and weak international currencies,
  • “social disruptions” in EMEA and Asia/Pacific that affected foreign markets, and
  • last, but certainly not least, competition for technology consumer dollars from mobile devices, even though their growth has been reduced to single digits.

PC sales are now dwarfed by smartphone sales these days — the PCs sold in all of 2015 don’t even amount to as much as the smartphones sold on average for any given quarter of 2015. Here’s how many PCs and smartphones shipped in the previous quarter:

worldwide pc shipments vs smartphone shipments

Click the graph to see it at full size.

And to further drive home the point that it’s an increasingly mobile world, here’s Horace Dediu’s recent tweet, in which he declares that iOS alone — never mind Android — overtook Windows last year:

We’re well and truly living in the mobile era.

this article also appears in the GSG blog

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Poster: Get Your Game On! / Getting started with building iOS games in Sprite Kit / Tampa iOS Meetup - Tuesday, january 19, 2016 -- A hodgepodge of iOS gaming-related imagery.

Happy new year, experienced and aspiring iOS developers in the Tampa Bay area!

If you’ve made a new year’s resolution to take up iOS, Swift, or game development in 2016, the upcoming Tampa iOS Meetup topic might be just what you need to get started. It’s called Get Your Game On: Getting Started with Sprite Kit, and it’s taking place in Tampa next Tuesday, January 19, 2016.

Tampa iOS Meetup banner with photo of Joey deVilla and Angela Don in the background.

Tampa iOS Meetup is a monthly meetup run by local mobile developer/designer Angela Don and Yours Truly. While Tampa has a couple of great iOS developer meetups — Craig Clayton’s Suncoast iOS and Chris Woodard’s Tampa Bay Cocoaheads, we figured that there was room for a third iOS meetup in the Tampa Bay area, and especially one that would stray into other areas of mobile development. So we made one.

Tampa iOS Meetup’s next meetup: Get Your Game On!

Icons of iOS games appearing to leap off the screen of an iPhone.

“Games” is the most popular category in the iOS App Store, accounting for 22.5% of active apps. They’re more than twice as popular as the next-most-popular category, business apps. Look in any place where people are waiting these days — in line at the bank or grocery, at public transit stops and airports, cafes and restaurants — and you’ll see people passing the time with a mobile game. Gaming is a basic human activity — we’ve had them since our earliest days, and we’ve had computer games for almost as long as we’ve had computers.

Despite the fact that games are the most-used type of mobile app, there are far fewer game development tutorials than there are for “standard” apps. That’s a pity, because one of the best ways to learn programming is satisfaction, and there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a game you created in action. While games can be complex, the concepts behind them are simple, and some of the most popular games are pretty simple as well. Why not try game development as a way to learn programming, Swift, and iOS?

Animated scene showing 'Flappy Bird' gameplay.

Join us next Tuesday, January 19th at the Tampa iOS Meetup and start the new year by getting your game on!

The Details

  • What: Tampa iOS’ Meetup’s “Get Your Game On” session. Please sign up on our Meetup page so we can plan accordingly!
  • When: Tuesday, January 19, 2016, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. We’ll have some snacks at 6:30, with the presentation beginning at 7:00.
  • Where: Energy Sense Finance, 3825 Henderson Boulevard (just west of Dale Mabry), Suite 300. See the map below.
  • What to bring: Yourself, but if you’d like to follow along, bring your Macbook and make sure it’s got Xcode 7.2.
  • What to read in advance: If you’re one of those people who likes to do some readings ahead of a presentation, check out the Sprite Kit tutorials on Ray Wenderlich’s site. We’ll be using our own tutorial material, but Ray’s stuff will come in handy.

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We’re in the phablet era now

Chart: Time spent on mobile grows 117% year over year.

Click the graph to see it at full size.

Venture capitalist Fred Wilson looked at research firm Flurry’s State of Mobile 2015 report and took note of the chart above, which shows that the greatest growth in time spent on mobile came from “phablets” — those large phones that blur the line between phone and tablet — and wrote:

There’s not a lot new in this data to be honest, but it confirms a lot of what everyone believes is happening. We are converging on a single device format in mobile and that’s driving some important changes in usage. We are in the phablet era.

Everything I needed to know about good user experience I learned while working in restaurants

Waiter and cook working in a restaurant.

At the Neilsen/Norman Group’s blog, Everything I Needed to Know About Good User Experience I Learned While Working in Restaurants lists the many things that you can learn from restaurants and apply to your applications, from designing for both new and expert users to interaction design and error handling to community management.

If you’re not familiar with the Nielsen/Norman Group, they’re the “Monsters of Rock” of user interface and experience. Their principals are:

The cautionary lessons of Evernote’s “5% problem”

An out-of-focus Evernote icon.

Evernote used to be my go-to note-taking app in 2011. I worked across platforms, and I loved that I could start a note on my laptop, continue on my iPad, and then later make tweaks or addenda on my phone. But as time went by, it got buggier and increasingly less usable to the point where I abandoned it worse and buggier until I abandoned it in annoyance.

Their note-taking app got buggier as the company tried to expand so that they had offerings that would appeal to as many people as possible. Therein lay their problem: as their own former CEO put it, people at Evernote conferences would go up to him and say that they loved the platform, but used only 5% of what it could do. The problem was that there was a different 5% for every person. They spread themselves too thin, lost their focus, started half-assign their product lines, and in an attempt to please everyone, ended up annoying them.

Keep calm and carry on developing Android apps

The classic 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster.

You may have heard that the ongoing legal battle between Oracle (who own Java) and Google (who own Android, which is Java-based) has led to Google’s decision to move from their proprietary version of the JDK to Oracle’s OpenJDK. You may be concerned, but you probably shouldn’t be. It may cause headaches for Google and Android mobile phone vendors, but as Android developers, it shouldn’t really affect you.

As Android developer and online tutor Tim Buchalka puts it:

We write our code accessing the same libraries, and things just work. Of course its going to be a decent chunk of work for Google to get this all working so that we dont have to worry about it, but if anyone has the resources to do it, Google do.

What do you need to do as an Android developer? Absolutely nothing, its business as normal! You dont need to change anything in your development process and it may well be that when Android N arrives you won’t have to either. So fire up Android Studio, and get back to coding!

A story you might not know about Microsoft Solitaire: it was created by a summer intern!

Screen shot of Microsoft Solitaire on Windows 3.1

Is Wes Cherry a bit annoyed that he never got paid to write one of the most-used applications of the Windows 3.x/9x days? He once answered “Yeah, especially since you are all probably paid to play it!”

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