Archive for the 'Web' Category

iOS 6 Predictions

March 6th, 2012
Spencer Nielsen Follow snielsen42 on Twitter

It is always fun to try and guess what Apple is going to do next. You can guarantee that there will always be surprises and sure bets, letdowns and magical moments. The Apple rumor sites do a decent job of soliciting leaks, reading between the lines and making educated conjecture. As a developer, I often like to take a good look at where Apple’s technology is right now and make logical extrapolations as to where things are headed. Oftentimes, when Apple announces some new feature or technology it seems obvious in retrospect if we had only connected the dots. Based on 2011’s release schedule, it is a fair bet to say that Apple is going to announce iOS 6 at WWDC sometime this summer and distribute a developer beta. That means that in the coming months little trickles of information are going to get doled out to the rumor sites about what kind of changes and additions we can expect. Just for fun, I wanted to get my own predictions out in the open before any of that started. Here is my very developer-oriented prediction list of what we might be expecting in iOS 6.

UPDATE: WWDC and the iOS 6 beta have come and gone. Some of my predictions now have conclusions. You will notice however that most of the predictions have not yet been updated. That is because there is the potential for Apple to be keeping a few more surprises up their sleeve for the fall when iOS 6 goes GM. Inline below are the results so far.

UPDATE2: iOS 6 GM is here which means that the NDA has lifted! Check down below to see how well I did. (more…)

Think Tank: Never let a good idea get away again!

November 28th, 2011
Spencer Nielsen Follow snielsen42 on Twitter

So I have these thoughts…a lot. No not that kind! 😉 I get these fun ideas for neat projects or crazy inventions as I am driving in the car, singing in the shower, lying in bed or even in the midst of coding. Really creative ideas that may or may not be realistically viable but worthy of entertaining nonetheless. I get really excited and start working it over in my mind. It feels like inspiration. Then something happens… Life resumes and I need to deal with the actual task at hand. No worry, it was such a compelling idea that I will surely remember it later when I have cycles to devote to it. And then I never think about it again. Or even worse, the next day rolls around and I all of the sudden remember that I did think of a cool idea the day before, but I can’t quite bring the memory into focus. Does any part of this sound familiar to you?

Write It Down

“No more!” I declared. Nothing gets remembered unless it is written down. Hmm, idea notebook? TextEdit file on the computer? I did the text file thing for a while but I kept forgetting that it was there or didn’t have access to it at the time. No worries… Evolution of the computer to the rescue! Transferred things to on the iPhone. Not good. Too jumbled, un-organized, too much information presented in-general. I knew of the million and a half “getting things done”, task management, mind-mapping and brain organization apps/ecosystems out there. But I found most were too general for what I wanted and too heavy. Well, if you want something done…


Startup 1.3 (October Update)

October 18th, 2011
Spencer Nielsen Follow snielsen42 on Twitter

The Startup Grind is expanding! You may or may not have heard that we have recently opened up a Los Angeles chapter of the Startup Grind and to coincide with that we have added multiple chapter support to the Startup! Now if you are a member of the Startup Grind LA your upcoming and past events should be visible when you log into the Startup with your Meetup account. If you are a member of multiple chapters then you will be presented with a top level pane allowing you to switch between them at will.

As we open up more chapters of the Startup Grind you will be able to access all the information and interactive elements for the events for every new meetup that we get going. More awesome features are in the works so stay tuned!

Language Aid: A Postmortem

August 27th, 2011
Spencer Nielsen Follow snielsen42 on Twitter

Language Aid is a system-wide text lookup tool I developed and sold for the past couple of years. I recently decided to make it free and release the source code. This is the story behind it.

Rewind to 2006, I was just winding down active development of Vision, my OpenGL Window Sever/UI Framework. I had started work on Vision in college 3 years earlier and had been churning on it full-time for the previous 2 years. I had decided that it was finally time to get a job and so I interviewed around and accepted a position at Apple. I had two weeks until my start date and I wanted to do some programming for fun that was completely different from what I had been doing.

Iron Coder[0]

It was during that two week period of not yet working for Apple that Wolf Rentzsch started the (now defunct) Iron Coder contest. The way it worked was that the organizer announces an API that each of the contestants must use somehow in their entry and then 24 hours later a theme is announced that entries must also somehow incorporate. I thought it was just what I needed. A fun, small-scoped project with a little bit of competition. So the day of the very first Iron Coder arrived and the contest API was announced: The Accessibility API. Accessibility API? What’s that? Until that moment I had not been aware of it but it was actually just what I had been looking for to solve a different problem I had. I started researching it and immediately there were portions of it that were very interesting to me. Specifically, the ability for programs to inspect and copy data (like displayed text) out of other running applications was of particular interest to me.


Language Aid 1.2

August 27th, 2011
Spencer Nielsen Follow snielsen42 on Twitter

Language Aid version 1.2 is out! The big feature of this release is that it is free and open source! This will also be the last release supported by Aoren Software. Development has pretty much wound all the way down at this point and the source has experienced some code rot as Core Foundation has progressively become more and more obsolete and Mac OS X has marched forward.

So it occurred to me that the time has come to set Language Aid free. Anyone care to take the code and modernize it? Maybe even release it on the Mac App Store? Let me know and I can work with you to make that happen. Be sure to check out my tell all Language Aid postmortem.

Startup 1.2 (August Update)

August 19th, 2011
Spencer Nielsen Follow snielsen42 on Twitter

The Startup version 1.2 has been approved and is live on the App Store! This update features some substantial re-design and refinement. The biggest change has been a complete re-design of the “Questions” pane. Now you can down-vote questions that you don’t like, redundant questions or non-questions. If a question gets to a value of -2 or lower (the equivalent of three negative votes and one positive vote) then the question will no longer be displayed. Remember, you can submit questions to the speaker far in advance of the actual event if you want.

Try it out and let us know what you think of the changes.

Startup 1.1 (July Update)

July 20th, 2011
Spencer Nielsen Follow snielsen42 on Twitter

The Startup version 1.1 has been approved and is live on the App Store! There are some cool new features in this update! Try them out and let us know what you think.

Info Pane

First, we have condensed a lot of information into a new “Info” pane:

  • The complete details about the speaker and event.
  • A map of where the event is being held (touch it to go look it up in the Maps application).
  • A sponsor banner so you know who to thank for your free pizza that night (Wanna be a sponsor? Email Us).

This pane is the new hub of every event and is the pane that you now start in.


Startup Grind. The app.

June 15th, 2011
Spencer Nielsen Follow snielsen42 on Twitter

So my friend Derek and I have this really cool event that we run called the Startup Grind. It has been great to watch it blossom into a vibrant, well attended meetup over the past couple of months. The other day we sat down and talked about ways that we could add even more value to what we think is the best free startup event in silicon valley. One thing we wanted to try out was to see if there was some sort of technology solution that we could come up with to make the networking at our event even easier and more valuable. Thus the concept of the Startup Grind app was born. First concept to App Store submission was exactly three weeks to the day. Now that you can get it in your hands, let me give you a tour of it’s main features.


Language Aid is on MacZOT!

December 2nd, 2008
Spencer Nielsen Follow snielsen42 on Twitter

For today only you can purchase Language Aid for half price (US$10) through a promotion at MacZOT! To take advantage of the promotion pricing, buy your copy of Language Aid through MacZOT and once the promotion is over you will receive an email with an application attached to it that will configure your computer for Language Aid registration. All you have to do is run the application and then click the “Register” button in the Language Aid preference pane. It will be fun to see how the promotion turns out.

Language Aid 1.1.4 is out!

August 18th, 2008
Spencer Nielsen Follow snielsen42 on Twitter

Normal LAID window

The changes included in this round are the usual bug fixes for stability/performance and the like. There is also one major change involving the results window. The results windows are now normal Mac OS X windows with typical window behavior instead of the previous overlay window style. This allows you to put other windows in-front of the results windows instead of them always floating on top of everything. With that there is also the change that you can use command-W to close the results windows in addition to the other methods of dismissal.

Almost all of the feature or behavior additions/changes that have gone in to Language Aid updates have originated from user feedback. I am very grateful to my users for their suggestions and requests so that Language Aid can continue to grow and improve. Thanks and keep it coming!

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