Leon Mika

On the Souring Relationship Between Apple and its Developers

Listening to episode #430 of ATP yesterday, it was kind of shocking to hear the loss of good will experienced by the hosts towards Apple and their developer relations. I can’t say that I blame them though. Although John’s point about lawyers making the case for Apple is a good one, I do get the same feeling that Marco does about Apples opinion about developers, which is not a positive one.

It feels a lot like Apple believes that developers building on their platform owe them everything to them, and that without Apple none of these businesses would exist at all. It does feel a lot like they are entitled to a cut of everything that is happening on their platform. It does feel a lot like they think a developer releasing their app for free on the App Store is an ungrateful free-loader, that is taking advantage of all their hard work building the platforms and developer toolkits. This is not just from what’s coming up during the Epic-Apple lawsuit discovery. Remember what happened to Basecamp last year, when tried to release a new version of their Hey iOS app.

None of these is accurate in the remotest sense. Although it is true that some of these business may not be around if iOS was ever invented, it’s not to say that these developers wouldn’t be doing something else. Also, these developers DO pay for the privilege to build on their platform. Let’s not forget the $99.00 USD ($149.00 AUD) that these developers pay yearly, not to mention all the hardware they buy to run XCode and these other tools. And it’s not like any of these tools wouldn’t exist at all if these devs were free to use another IAP provider. Apple, I assume, would like something like XCode to exist so that they can build their own apps.

I hope people in Apple are listening to this. Anti-trust regulation aside, they are doing themselves a massive disservice by treating their developers like this. These people are their biggest evangelists. I’m not sure it will come to the point where they will abandon the iOS platform, at least not at this stage. But I could foresee these developers being hesitant to adopt any new app platforms that Apple release, say a future AR platform that will feature hardware devices.

Feature request for Fastmail: the ability to setup a private RSS feed for a folder, so that emails within it can be read in a feed reader. Similar to the “the Feed” in Hey, but available within a feed reader of choice.

Stephen Hackett on 🎙 Flashback #18: The Google Graveyard Draft:

Never fall in love in a Google Service that’s not Gmail

So true.

Started working on a website for a project I’m hoping to eventually open source. Found it a little difficult to write the section on why this project exists at all. It may turn that I’ll be be the only one that will have a use for it.

Podcast Roll 2021

Yesterday, @Munish had the courage to share his podcast subscriptions1. Sensing an opportunity to talk about with what I’m currently listening to, even though it may reveal more about myself that I’m usually comfortable with, I’m taking up his dare and sharing mine.

So, here is my podcast roll as of early May 2021:

Podcast subscriptions 2021

The shows above can roughly be divided up into the following categories:

Technology: This is a topic that I’m very interested in so there are fair few of these. A lot of them are Apple centric, but this is more of an accident than by design. The second podcast that I started regularly listening to was The Talk Show since I was a casual reader of Daring Fireball at the time (and I still am). That opened me up to ATP, which led to a bunch of Relay.fm shows.

Business: These could probably be lumped into technology, but are focused more on the business side of things rather than product development. Ben Thompson shows up a lot here, with Exponent, Dithering, and the Stratechery daily update my regular gotos. The release of that last one helped set some new routines while I was working from home last year. There’s a decent collection of shows from indy developers here as well.

Science, History, and Philosophy: These are where the real heavy podcast listening comes in, the shows that are 2 to 4 hours long and go deep into a particular topic or event. I have to be in the right kind of mood for these one. Key drivers here are Making Sense, Mindscape and Hardcore History.

Politics and Society: I am somewhat interested in US politics, which could explain the shows that appear in this category. Deep State Radio is one that I still listen to occasionally. Also of note is the NPR Planet Money podcast, which was the first podcast that I’ve ever subscribed to. A recent addition is the ABC Coronacast which provides a decent briefing of the coronavirus pandemic in Australia.

Popular Culture: This is probably where all the Incomparable shows come in, when I’m in the mood for something lighthearted and funny. My usual goto’s there are the Incomparable Game Show, Robot or Not and Pants in the Boot. One or two Relay.fm shows fall in here as well, including Reconcilable Differences, which is a favourite of mine.

Micro.blog: The final category is more-or-less podcasts that I’ve subscribed to while spending time on Micro.blog. This includes shows like the Micro Monday podcast, but also shows from those on Micro.blog like Core Intuition and Hemispheric Views.

So that’s it. There are a fair few subscriptions listed above, not all of them I regularly listen to. I guess I should probably unsubscribe from those that I haven’t listen to for a while. I probably keep them around for the same reason why I keep RSS feeds around: just in case something worth listening to pops up in there.

  1. Or “follows”, which is I guess the new term for it. [return]

I’m starting to get the emails from Hover warning me of auto-renew being turned off for domains I’ve bought but never used. Not too long before the lists drops down to a more manageable level.

On Basecamp

I’ve been thinking about the incident at Basecamp for most of the week. I wanted to write something about it earlier, after hearing about the policy changes on Tuesday, but I’d figure that it would probably be best to wait a bit and learn more about the issue first. The last thing I wanted to do is add one more knee-jerk reaction to the mix during the heat of the moment.

But it is something that I want to comment on. I’ve only recently started following the writing of DHH and Jason Fried but I am aware of their reputation in both their approach to business and their dealings in the open-source community. To hear of a scandal form a business founded by these two took me aback. That’s probably why I’m writing this post at all. Hearing news like this from companies as large as Facebook or Google, with tens of thousands of employees, doesn’t surprise me as much as something arising from a company of about sixty people.

The thing about being on the outside looking in is that you have an imperfect picture of the whole incident. And even after reading the open letter, the report from Casey Newton, and the response from DHH, it’s still not the full picture, as you cannot be inside the head of those involved. You can only work with what you read, and how it shapes your view of the principal actors that lives inside your head. This, along with the current environment that this event occurred in, makes it difficult for me to comment on the matter.

But I do see a few things that are regrettable. It’s regrettable that such a thing like the Best Customer Names list exists. Far be it from me to be above making light of those that I deal with on a day-to-day basis, that such a list exited seemed like a step too far, particularly when it deals with those that you are being paid to serve. I can understand if this was a small startup with a handful of employees working hard to get it off the ground, and there was a need to vent. But for a company of sixty, especially one that thinks highly about how they operate they write blog posts about, it strikes me as unprofessional, and it does them no credit.

It’s also regrettable that this matter could not be have been dealt with internally.
One thing that struck me was how long the build up to this policy change was. It did not happen overnight; clearly something was brewing in Basecamp for a little while. And although I recognise that there were attempts to settle the matter internally, with the list removed and an apology from the founders, I also recognise that we are dealing with people with very strong personalities that are not afraid to air their opinions. So I wonder whether or not it could have remained an internal matter at all. Nevertheless, it’s in the public now, with the associated backlash and loss of credibility.

Which brings me to the third regrettable thing, which is the ban on political discussion. In the abstract, this is not something that I personally support; a company does not operate in a vacuum after all. Maybe for a company like Basecamp it could act as bit of a circuit breaker if deployed for a little while; I get the sense that the founders thought similar. But it is a shame that it got to that level, and I do hope that they reverse it once things settle down. I think it’s good of Basecamp to offer severance packages to those employees that disagree with this measure, and wish to find work elsewhere. That indicates that they are willing to back their employees decision to leave, rather than leave their employees with a bit of a Sophies’s choice situation.

So, what will I be doing going forward? I’ll probably continue to read posts from Jayson and DHH, and continue to use their open-source frameworks.
I’m not a paying customer of Basecamp, although I do use their free offering, and I’m planning to continue doing so. Of course, I can understand if others choose a different course of action. Although I’m not a fan of making decisions in the heat of the moment, I can understand and respect the decisions made now, given that more on the incident has surface. I will be interested in seeing how Basecamp operates going forward. An event like this could have a lasting impact on a company, it’s founders, and it’s employees, and it would be interesting in seeing how to move on from it.

Early coding session this morning for a side project. Woke up at 4:45 am to work on a feature I just have to have. Manage to get just over an hour out before work.

The drive to do something like this doesn’t come along often; and when it does, it’s glorious.

Visitor at the back door. 🦎

I wish there was a song lyric website that’s not riddled with ads. I don’t know why all the right holders haven’t put one togeather that is fast and ad free. People use them (well, I do at least), and it shows that they’re interested in the music they listen to.

Some thoughts on Apple Subscription Podcasts offering

You’ve probably seen the blog post outlining the details of Apple’s new Podcast Subscription offering. The latest post from Daring Fireball has a link to it if you haven’t seen it on Twitter already.

After reading this, I’m not sure who would choose to go with Apple’s Podcast hosting. Money aside, it looks like another case of Apple mediating the relationship between host and listener, not to mention keeping subscriber content exclusively on Apple’s app.

The easy money doesn’t sound like it’s worth the cost of independence that comes from publishing shows on the existing open podcast ecosystem. Sure it would be harder — you’ll have to build your audience yourself, and it will likely take some time before you can get sponsors or a membership program — but the benefits that come from independence sound to me like it would be worth it. And once you have the audience, the support will follow: just look at Dithering, ATP, and Relay.

I hope podcaster’s realise this. There’s a good thing here: podcasters connecting directly to listeners via the open web. I don’t want one more large company coming in to wreck that.

I listened to a interesting podcast about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and how it could be used by police to make arrests safely and without the use of lethal force. Sounds like a good idea.

Also, surprised that “Ninja Cop” is not a movie already.

My current bookmarking scheme is all over the place so I’m giving Pinboard a try in an attempt to make it a bit more organised. Might help with my blogging as well. I’ve been in a bit of a writing drought recently which may be related to my reading inputs.

Nothing humbles someone who thinks they’re a reasonably good developer than picking up a brand new software platform, and trying to build something non-trivial in it. I’m speaking from first hand experience here.

Today is one of those rarest of days: a day with no meetings. There’s not even a stand-up, at least not one involving a video call. Just a day where I can put my head down and work from start to finish. Glorious!

Surmounting The Hill

Sometimes adding features to software is like cycling on a hilly road.

You start off at the bottom of the hill, a little unsure of the hight and gradient, and how well you’ll be able to tackle it. You start the uphill climb, writing new code, adding tests, trying an approach that may not work, backtracking and starting again. This uphill climb is starting to tire you out. You’re making forward progress, even thought it may not feel like it, but it’s slow and you’re not sure how much longer you can keep cycling for.

Eventually, you reach the top: you have a solution that does what it needs to do with decent test coverage, but it’s ugly as sin. There’s an approach there that works, but it’s hidden underneath all the attempts that didn’t. You’re tired, but you’ve got a sense of accomplishment.

Now the downhill coast begins. You begin hacking and slashing, deleting code that you no longer need, and generally simplifying the solution, every time running tests to make sure you haven’t removed too much. Travelling further along the road gets easier with each file deleted and each model refactored, until you have something that actually looks good. Eventually you level out, and you’ll need to start peddling again, as you tidy up and add documentation in preparation for the pull request.

The feature is built, the hill is behind you, and you are further along the road, ready to tackle the next hill.

I really have to stop getting distracted writing tools to “help” me with the less than interesting aspects of my work, and just frickin do the work. Otherwise, I’ll just end up with two things that are unfinished.

A thing about Clubhouse is that since it’s live audio, it requires listeners to be awake. Given that most hosts that I would be interested in listening to tend to target US timezones, that is rarely true for me.

Nearly every office I’ve been in that has a dishwasher have their own makeshift system for indicating whether the dishes in the machine are dirty or clean. A quick win for dishwasher manufacturers would be to build this “dirty/clean” indicator directly into the front panel.

I’ve been really enjoying the posts that Jason Fried and DHH are making on HEY World, especially the ones on how they approach product design, or how they run Basecamp. The latest post from Jason about decision making is certainly one that I’ve found very intriguing.

I think one reason why the autocorrect in iOS is so frustrating is that, not only is it aggressive in thinking that it knows the right word, but that it doesn’t take attributes like capitalisation as hints of the word I’m trying to use.

I’ve been trying to write a post with the word “blame”, but I’ve been misspelling it as “blaim”. The iPad, trying to be helpful, is automatically changing it to “Blair”. It knows that “blame” is a possible correction — if I were to undo the change and bring up the chip of suggested alternatives, “blame” is one of them — but I never get the opportunity to select it as it changes the word from under me.

When there’s no suggestion, the misspelt word is simply highlighted. Maybe that should be the way to go for all missspellings unless iOS is almost certain that it knows the correction. I know it’s a hard problem, but it would be appreciated if more work is spent on making this less frustrating.

It took an hour navigating various Telstra phone trees, chat apps, and the website, but I’ve now got a static IP address for my home internet. The reason for doing so relates to work, but it does open up other use-cases which may be fun to explore.

One aspect of software development that I like is the research side of things: learning something new and interesting that will hopefully be useful for the problem I’m working on. The downside of this, though, is that I cannot listen to podcasts while I work.

There are many people around where I work that like “loud cars” of some sort, but I most certainly do not. This is one more reason why I’m looking forward to electric cars being the norm.

There was a massive spiral wheel-shaped spider web in my backyard that I thought was abandoned. It was only after I took it down this morning that I realised it actually wasn’t. Now I feel kinda bad.