Tampa iOS Meetup returns September 25, 2018

by Joey deVilla on June 24, 2018

There WON’T be a Tampa iOS Meetup this coming Tuesday, June 26 — and there won’t be one in July or August either. Tampa iOS Meetup will return on Tuesday, September 25.

Things have become quite busy at work, and as a result, I have work and family events that take place at the same time as the usual Tampa iOS Meetup times for the next few months.

It may have looked like there were supposed to be meetups in June, July, or August, but that’s because Meetup.com likes to get ahead of itself. Once you start holding meetups at regular intervals (like Tampa iOS Meetup normally does, on the last Tuesday of the month), Meetup.com tries to help by automatically scheduling meetups on those dates into the foreseeable future. Sorry for any confusion that this may have caused.

I’ll still be around! If you have any questions, or want to talk about iOS, programming, or life in general, you can always reach me at joey@joeydevilla.com.

See you on Tuesday, September 25!

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Every week, I compile a list of events for developers, technologists, tech entrepreneurs, and nerds in and around the Tampa Bay area. We’ve got a lot of events going on this week, and here they are!

Monday, June 25

Tuesday, June 26

Wednesday, June 27

Thursday, June 28

Friday, June 29

Saturday, June 30

Sunday, July 1

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Every week, I compile a list of events for developers, technologists, tech entrepreneurs, and nerds in and around the Tampa Bay area. We’ve got a lot of events going on this week, and here they are!

Monday, June 18

Tuesday, June 19

Wednesday, June 20

Thursday, June 21

Friday, June 22

Saturday, June 23

Sunday, June 24

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Last night, Anitra and I enjoyed delivering our presentation on building user experiences for mobile augmented reality apps to the combined Tampa Bay User Experience and Front-End Design meetups at Bank of the Ozarks’ Innovation Lab in St. Pete.

Photo by Beth Galambos.

Augmented reality is still relatively new territory for most mobile app developers and designers. Until recently, if you wanted to build AR apps for smartphones and tablets, you were faced with the task of doing a lot of programming in order to “roll your own” capabilities, including:

  • Overlaying virtual images over camera images and displaying both on the screen
  • Detecting changes to the device’s location and orientation in real-world space
  • Re-orienting virtual images and drawing new ones in response to changes in the device’s location and orientation
  • Detecting and responding to objects in the real world as seen by the device’s camera and other sensors

This has changed in the past year, with the introduction of built-in augmented reality frameworks by Apple into iOS (ARKit) and Google into Android (ARCore). With these, you don’t have to be an expert low-level programmer to built AR apps; even if you can build basic web or mobile applications, building AR apps is now something within your reach.

Photo by Joey deVilla.

Augmented reality is also relatively new territory for users. Desktop and laptop computers have had the processing power to do AR for many years, but in order to be truly useful, AR needs the kind of portability that comes with tablets, smartphones, and wearable devices. For the longest time, these portable devices lacked the power to do usable AR.

The past year has seen the introduction of the A11 “Bionic” processor in the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, and the Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 processor in the Samsung Galaxy S9. We now have flagship smartphones and tablets with processing power that rivals the processor in the current MacBook Pro. These devices are now powerful enough to deliver practical AR experiences.

Photo by Beth Galambos.

With augmented reality now within easy reach of developers and users, it’s time for UX specialists and front-end designers to start thinking about building AR experiences. AR interactions are quite different from those for desktop applications, and expand upon plain mobile applications.

It’s AR’s early days. Think of AR today as being at the same point as…

  • Personal computers in the mid- to late 1980s
  • The GUI, multimedia, and CD-ROMs in the early 1990s
  • The internet and web in the mid- to late 1990s
  • Web 2.0 in the early 2000s
  • Mobile apps in the late 2000s and early 2010s

If you take the leap, you can make a splash.

The presentation

AR’s a big topic, and we had a big presentation — 99 slides! We had a lot of ground to cover, as you can see from the SlideShare above.

For those of you who want to download your own copy of our slides, here they are in a couple of formats:

Apple Keynote (131MB)

PDF (101MB)

The presenters

In case you don’t know who we are, here’s a quick summary…

Anitra Pavka

  • Technical Product Manager at Malwarebytes, working on the consumer anti-malware product used by almost 15 million people.
  • Contributing author to O’Reilly’s book, HTML5 Cookbook.
  • Technical editor for O’Reilly’s book, Universal Design for Web Applications.
  • Three-time speaker on accessibility and usability issues at SXSW Interactive.
  • Previous Tampa Bay UX Meetup speaker about Apple TV UX.

anitra@anitrapavka.com | @APavka | LinkedIn

 

Joey deVilla

  • Lead Product Manager at Sourcetoad, overseeing the design and implementation of mobile applications.
  • Contributing author at the mobile developer tutorial site RayWenderlich.com.
  • ARKit session and tutorial presenter at RWDevCon 2018.
  • Technical editor for the book ARKit by Tutorials.
  • Tampa iOS Meetup organizer.
  • Former Microsoft dev evangelist; tried to make Windows Phone 7 happen.

joey@joeydevilla.com | @AccordionGuy | LinkedIn

Learn to build your own ARKit apps!

If you’d like to try your hand at building AR apps for iOS, take a look at the tutorial session that I gave at RWDevCon 2018 in April. In it, I walk the audience through building two of the apps that we demoed last night:

  • Happy AR Painter, which lets you “paint” augmented reality shapes in real-world space.
  • Raykea, a scaled-down version of the IKEA Place app.

Not only does this page contain the video of the entire tutorial session, it also has links to the starter and final projects for both these apps. All you need is Xcode (available for free from Apple) and an AR-ready iDevice (iPhone 6S or later).

If you’d like to get even further into AR development for iOS, there’s no better book than ARKit by Tutorials, which not only teaches you all sorts of things about ARKit, but shows you how to build 5 AR apps:

  • Tabletop Poker Dice
  • Immersive Sci-Fi Portal
  • 3D Face Masking
  • Location-Based Content
  • Monster Truck Sim

I was part of the technical editing team for the book, and I can say with certainty that it’s a fantastic resource for the AR developer.

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On Thursday, June 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bank of the Ozarks’ Innovation Lab, Anitra and I will be do a presentation on augmented reality at the joint Tampa Bay User Experience / Tampa Bay Front End Design meetup. We’ll talk about building user experiences for augmented reality apps on mobile devices and show some AR apps that I’ve built. Join us!

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How to program: How does DidThanosKill.me work?

by Joey deVilla on June 13, 2018

Shortly after the release of Avengers: Infinity War, the site DidThanosKill.me appeared, and many of my friends visited it and shared their results. There were two possible outcomes:

  • You were spared by Thanos.
  • You were slain by Thanos, for the good of the Universe.

If you tried to reload the page to get a different result, you quickly learned that you can’t cheat fate. Once you got a result from DidThanosKill.me, it stayed that way, no matter how many times you reloaded the page.

If you’re new to programming, or if you’ve hit that point where you can follow a programming tutorial but are having trouble taking an idea and turning it into an application, this article is part of an ongoing series that will help you.

Nerd interlude (or: a little background for people who didn’t read comics in the ’90s)

The eradication of half the life in the universe happened (both in the 1991 comic book The Infinity Gauntlet and the movie, which borrows bits and pieces from the comic book) when Thanos gathered the Infinity Gems/Stones (in the comics, they’re Gems, and they were originally called the Soul Gems; in the movies, they’re Stones)…

…into the Infinity Gauntlet, giving him near-unlimited power. In the comics, Thanos did this to impress and win the love of Death — the cosmic entity, personification of death, and Thanos’ dream woman:

The “to challenge humans is to court death” post-credits scene from the first Avengers movie gave the non-comic-book-reading audience its first glimpse of Thanos and hinted at the possibility that they might go with the same storyline…

…but instead, they went with a more mundane, Malthusian motivation for Thanos: bringing balance to the universe, and population control. It’s a pity, because the Marvel Cinematic Universe had already introduced a great death goddess character who would’ve worked wonderfully with the “Thanos is in love with Death” idea:

How DidThanosKill.me works: The high-level version

In both the movies and the comics, when Thanos finally gets all the gems/stones in the Gauntlet, he uses its power to kill off half the life in the universe by random selection. The word random should be your hint that a random number generator is involved.

The other thing that DidThanosKill.me does is remember whether or not Thanos killed you. When a web app remembers something about a particular visitor without requiring that visitor to log in first, that’s your hint that it’s probably making use of a cookie.

How DidThanosKill.me works: Looking at the actual code

Let’s take a look at DidThanosKill.me’s source. This is the complete source for that page, which you can see when you use your browser’s View Source functionality on DidThanosKill.me:

Making the code run as soon as the page is done loading

On line 50, you’ll find the body tag:

This is an often-used technique to make something happen when the page loads:

  • The onload event occurs when the object it belongs to has fully loaded.
  • In the case of the body tag, the onload event happens when the body of the web page has fully loaded, which means that it has loaded all content, including images, scripts, CSS, and so on.
  • With this particular body tag, once the web page has fully loaded, it executes the onLoad() method.

The method where everything happens

The onLoad() method lives in the script tag (it starts at line 25) and looks like the code below, with one key exception: I’ve added a couple of numbers at the end of key lines, which correspond to the items below the code.

1. It gets the HTML element that will display the “You were slain” or “You were spared” message.

It does this by getting the element whose id is display and assigns it to the variable displayElement.

If you look at line 52 of the source, you’ll see that this element is a span that is:

  • Set in the center of the screen (as determined by position: fixed; top: 50%; left: 50%; transform: translate(-50%, -50%); in the style attribute)
  • Has a large font size (as determined by font-family: sans-serif; font-size: 4em; in the style attribute)
  • Is center-aligned (as determined by text-align: center; in the style attribute)

The span will eventually contain the text that will display either “You were slain by Thanos, for the good of the Universe”, or “You were spared by Thanos.”

2. It checks to see if the user’s fate was already determined and memorized during a previous visit.

This is done by calling a method named getCookie(), which tries to get the value of the cookie with the given key. In this case, the key is thanosNumber. A cookie with the key thanosNumber would exist on the user’s system only if the user had visited the site before and didn’t clear the browser’s cookies since then.

  • If user’s system contains a cookie with the key thanosNumber, getCookie("thanosNumber") returns the value associated with that key, and that value gets put into the variable randomNumber.
  • If the user has never visited DidThanosKill.me before (or cleared their cookies since their last visit), the user’s system not contain a cookie with the key thanosNumber. The call to getCookie("thanosNumber") would result in a null value, which would then be put into the variable randomNumber.

At this point, randomNumber contains either nullor a value.

3. If  the user’s fate hasn’t already been determined and memorized, it determines and memorizes the user’s fate.

If randomNumber contains null, the following happens:

  • A random number between 0 and up to (but not including) 1 is generated and stored in randomNumber. This number represents the user’s fate.
  • The value in randomNumber is saved to the user’s system in a cookie with the keythanosNumber.

4. If  the user’s fate has already been determined and memorized, it recalls the user’s fate.

The value in randomNumber is converted to its numerical equivalent.

5. It displays the user’s fate.

At this point, as a result of either step 3 or step 4, randomNumber is guaranteed to contain a number between 0 and up to (but not including) 1.

  • If the value in randomNumber is less than 0.5, the user was slain by Thanos, and this fate is displayed onscreen.
  • If the value in randomNumber is greater than 0.5, the user was spared by Thanos, and this fate is displayed onscreen.

And thus half the universe is spared, and half the universe dies.

An exercise for the reader

There are still two bits of the code that I haven’t yet explained, and they’re the ones that read and write the cookie data. The first is the getCookie() function…

…and the second is clearCookie():

See if you can figure them out. I’ll explain how they work in a future article.

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