Monthly Archives: October 2011

Spring Cleaning

I’m fortunate enough to live in a part of the world where summer is on it’s way, and if you believe what my mother says, that means it’s time for spring cleaning. If you’re anything like me, there’s probably some things in your working life which are mildly annoying – certainly not enough to stop your from doing your day to day job, but everytime they pop up, you think “I really should fix that sometime”. Well, whether it’s spring or not – now is the time. Here’s a few of the things you might want to take a look at.

Clean Up Your Source Control

I’ve had my own source control repository for around 6 years, which initially started off as just a personal store, and eventually grew into the main repository for all my independent company development projects. You probably know as well as I do that after several years of use, repositories get messy. Every time I created a new project, I found myself not really knowing the best place to put it. I’m using Subversion, but most types of source control can handle moving around folders just fine, so there’s really no good reason not to do it. I’ve restructured mine so that the top-level folders are the platform type (eg. iOS, Android, Mac, etc). Inside the platform folders is a folder for each relevant client I do work for, including one for Personal projects, and one for in-house projects. This is probably not the way you want it, so spend 10 minutes thinking about how you’d really like your repository structured before you go ahead – as they say, “plan twice, move once”. Or something like that.

Clean Up Your Local Storage

Got a whole bunch of projects named “test2″ and “deleteMe”? Still got some old Xcode betas installed? Everyone has junk lying around on their local system, and spring cleaning is a great time to remove it. For bonus points, restructure your local project storage so it’s in the same structure as your source control.

Start Using Xcode 4

It seems every week I read another blog post, or see another tweet, about someone who has tried Xcode 4 for a few hours, didn’t like it, and proclaimed “Xcode 3 or GTFO”. Well, good luck with that. Xcode 4 is the future, and you better get used to it. Personally, it probably took me nearly a week to really get back to being productive. Keyboard shortcuts have changed, your workflow is different, and let’s face it, early builds were buggy. Now that I’ve bothered to learn the environment though, I really feel that Xcode 4 is a huge leap forward. If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend you upgrade while you still have the choice, instead of being forced into it when Xcode 3 is discontinued and you’re in the middle of a big project.

Get Your Backups In Place (and test them)

How would you feel if you woke up one morning and your computer wouldn’t turn on? Heck, how would you feel if your computer caught on fire? Well, probably pretty bad, but hopefully that’s only because you don’t have a fire extinguisher, and not because you don’t have adequate backups in place. I basically have a 3-layer backup system:

  • A nightly clone of my entire drive using SuperDuper!, which I boot up from once per month to ensure it’s working (I have an event in iCal to remind me to test this).
  • All code stored in an off-site source control repository. When you finish coding for the day (or stop for lunch), check in your code.
  • Real-time backups of selected folders using CrashPlan, both local and off-site. CrashPlan is insanely good, and very cheap – $50 a year for unlimited, real-time, off-site backup. It’s free if you don’t want real-time backup and have your own storage space, too.

Overkill? Probably. But for a couple hundred dollars of initial outlay, and only $50 in annual costs, why not?

Try That Software You’ve Been Dreaming Of

For a long time I’ve been using Versions as my Subversion client, and there’s always been a few things that bug me about it. Still, they were just little annoyances, and I was able to get my work done – that’s all that really mattered, right? I finally got around to trying Cornerstone recently, and my only disappointment is that I didn’t switch a long time ago. If you suspect the tools you’re using aren’t the best they could be, it’s well worth giving some others a shot – your tools should step out of your way and let you do your job, not bug you every time you use them.

Tidy Up Your Desk

Yep, this one matters too. Put away all those files you have to push aside every morning, get rid of those dirty plates from last week, and go on, do a bit of dusting as well.

Hop To It!

Nobody likes cleaning, but the hardest part is getting started. Make a promise to yourself to spend one day this week not coding, but cleaning your digital life. Once you’re done, you’ll feel more productive, and more importantly, you’ll be more productive.

Why I’m Super Excited for the iPhone 4S

Earlier today, Apple finally revealed their latest hardware, the iPhone 4S. Like most of you, I’d been waiting a long time for this day to come, and I was truly excited to see what Apple has been hard at work on. If you’d asked me a month ago, I would have almost bet the house on the iPhone 5 being revealed today. There’s some nice symmetry to releasing iOS 5 and an iPhone 5 at the same time, and we all know Apple loves symmetry.

Over the last few weeks though, I’d been increasingly getting the feeling that this release was going to be evolution, not revolution. The penny dropped for me upon reading a post over at Daring Fireball, titled Teardrop Skepticism – the basic gist being that the rumoured teardrop design made no sense, as it would feel wrong in landscape mode. I’m amazed that no one else had pointed this out earlier, and from that point forward I was positive that today would see the announcement of only the iPhone 4S.

As I watched the announcement, I couldn’t help but feel a growing disappointment. A better camera, better internal performance – even the worst analyst could have figured those things out, which have been rumoured for months. Despite my gut feeling, I was still hoping for the unlikely. Even Siri was pretty much all but confirmed before today, and whilst it looks really cool, I don’t know how much I’ll use it after the first hour of experimentation.

Now that everything has settled and the world has gone back to work, I’ve been thinking about the flow of the announcement, and the message that Apple is really trying to send here. Yes, the iPhone 4S was the finale, and the piece that everyone was waiting for, but a substantial amount of the presentation was given over to other aspects of the eco-system – notably iOS 5, and iCloud. Most of the details we already knew from WWDC, but the difference here is that these are no longer a work in progress – iOS 5 and iCloud will be with us in just over a week. If there really was an iPhone 5 announced today, it would take the gloss off iOS and iCloud. Make no mistake about it, these two components are going to drastically change the way things work in our ecosystem, and Apple has done an amazing job bringing them together. You get the feeling the company has been incredibly hard at work since WWDC.

So while the iPhone 4S might not be the new hardware that we were all hoping for, I think that’s ok. I’m still super excited for October 14, because damn – the iOS 5 and iCloud combination is going to be truly awesome.