Aug 27

More Inputs; An iOS opportunity

Tech with tags: 1 Comment »

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I turned on another keyboard for the first time on iOS. This wasn’t Spanish or another locale, but rather Emoji :) Being able to flip between the standard input and the emoticons reminded me of the opportunity that iOS is missing with respect to inputs.

When I use my Android device I find that I really like the Intent system and the fact that I can install and try different input technology. Swype, Swiftkey, and more. Along with the fact that the keyboard area is larger (due to a larger form factor) it all means that I type so much better.

I have gotten to the point where I don’t reach for my laptop in the same way that I used too. In former times (I love how Germans say that) I would grab my Air as soon as I needed to type more than 3 words as it would drive me nuts to try to do so on a phone keyboard (or even iPad half the time). Something has happened where I no longer do that. I will bang out longer content on my device and have gotten used to doing so.


It is one thing to be able to replace the system keyboard, but if I could even add new inputs to the system so I could hit the globe like icon and live in my other keyboards or input devices or any type that would be great (e.g. a graffiti window! ;)

Fleksy (pictured above) is a great new keyboard that came out of trying to be more forgiving for visually impaired folk, but also works well for me (some things bug me about it for sure…. mainly entering punctuation and going beyond the swipe right for space). Let me dock it and use it!

And then we get past keyboard inputs and allowing innovation on voice rec, photo input, and more!

Aug 11

Your Coding Voice

Tech No Comments »

Coding has a voice too, don’t you think? — @tobie

Man, I was thinking about something just like that as I was reading Steve Yegge’s latest essay on the parallels of the political spectrum to the developer platform spectrum. I am always very happy to see a new post from Mr. Yegge.

When people ask me about Java and why I don’t often write applications in it, my answer is not that I think “Java sucks”. I think the JVM is amazing technology, and there are a ton of fantastic APIs. Using Java is a great answer for many situations. However, the least amount of fun that I have had programming has been when using the Java language. It isn’t just that it feels frustratingly verbose, although that is part of it. I feel like I am saying too much:

I am using the Greeting “Welcome” to the Person Ben!

I always found like I was stuck speaking in someone else’s tone. A boring tone. I would try to change things up by using more fluent APIs (e.g. withScreen().shop().navigateToCategory("Auto & Tires/Tools & Equipment").tapListItem(3), but then I would feel like I just didn’t fit in. It also didn’t feel fair to the rest of the team that would be speaking in another monotone. Reading code is so much more important than writing it… and all that jazz.

Speaking of jazz, maybe some people enjoy singing in a large choir and getting the harmony just right. I think I prefer to be in a jazz band where I have more room to explore (and mess up?). Improvising leads me to different API choices and different solutions. Some people hate APIs such as 7.days.ago, but I tend to enjoy them.

There is huge value in a community having a coherent voice, but I am still trying to find the right balance. I am still looking for my voice. I don’t want to go too far and get obsessed with the process and forget the content though. The purpose of my code is to deliver an experience, and that output has the most value, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to care about my craft and learning.

If I think about the (somewhat) massive wasted effort that I have seen over the years on switching frameworks and arguing over Struts vs. WebWork, jUnit vs. TestNG, Spring vs. Guice, jQuery vs. Prototype, or [insert your favorite argument]. I don’t think that if I went back to any choices and switched the “winner” I would have had drastically different results in the experience I ended up building. I think that is why I am focusing more on being a Product Engineer, but one who has fun building it in his own voice?

Aug 03

Respect the users status bar; Man the Olympics app can suck can’t it?

Tech, UI / UX, iPhone No Comments »


The status bar should be treated with respect. It drives me nuts when it is abused, and it can give delight when it is used well. One of the lil hacks I really liked came from Joel Bernstein when in developer mode only, you get to see if you are talking to dev, qa, or production servers! Delightful Joel.

But then I saw this…


… the Olympics app takes over my status bar to show a sponsor? I am not allowed to know my battery life, the time, network situation, and if the app is going back to get data and instead I get…. an ad? You have to be kidding me guys.

Feel free to use it in a temporal way to give me updates such as Twitter does these days:


But please, don’t take away my info without giving me something back.

(The apps are pretty bad in general. They are buggy and flaky, have been “updated” daily, the video goes in and out a lot, and the content isn’t that good. Meh.)