The Shape of Everything
A website mostly about Mac stuff, written by Gus Mueller
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December 5, 2016

Tomorrow, Dec 6th, Flying Meat will be donating 100% of our sales to the Southern Poverty Law Center:

"The SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality."

If you don't already own Acorn, tomorrow would be a good time to pick it up. And if you buy it directly from us instead of the App Store, 30% more of your purchase will be given to the SPLC.

November 29, 2016

Ars Technica: Worms or bust: The story of Britain’s most tenacious indie games company.

I remember playing Worms 20 years ago in college, and the hours wasted away playing it with roommates. I loved that game, and I guess I still do?

There is version of it out on iOS, I should pop it on my iPad and take it for a spin with my daughter.

November 28, 2016

Khoi Vinh: The Underestimated Merits of Copying Someone Else’s Work

"This got me thinking about the value of copying. In this day and age, copying in any artistic pursuit is taboo. Culturally, economically and legally we emphasize the new and the novel, if not the original, and we look down on copying as lazy and ethically bereft. And rightly so; there’s nothing to redeem the act of copying another work and presenting it as your own.

"On the other hand, there’s a compelling case to be made for copying as a learning technique. It’s a time honored form of learning and apprenticeship in painting, for example; if you’ve ever visited an art museum you’ve probably seen art students with easels and palettes literally reproducing canvases from the great masters."

See also: Good Artists Copy

November 24, 2016

Michael Lopp: The Likeability Feedback Loop

"This likeability feedback loop tastes great. Who doesn’t want a steady flow of relevant, interesting, and targeted information? Who doesn’t want the world synthesized and simplified into a palatable set of information that one can easily consume in just a few moments? And who doesn’t like the simple satisfaction of sharing or retweeting that likable and relatable piece of information that just speaks to me."

November 21, 2016

Just because we're still pushing ahead with Acorn 5, doesn't mean we have forgotten about Acorn 4. We've just pushed Acorn 4.5.8, which contains compatibly fixes for MacOS 10.12 Sierra. Acorn 4.5.8 is now compatible with 10.8 through 10.12.

This release is currently for direct customers only. For some reason the App Store has Acorn 4.5.7 in some sort of wedged state that we haven't quire figured out. We'll see if we can get that resolved sometime soon and get v4.5.8 out there as well.

November 16, 2016

Acorn 5.6 is moving closer to shipping, and it now includes support for the Touch Bar in the new MacBook Pros. So if you have one of these neat new machines, you can grab a test build of Acorn 5.6 and try it out.

Acorn will update Touch Bar with recent images to open, a histogram, color changing widgets, transformation options, boolean operations for shapes, and more. And of course this will be a free update for anyone who has already purchased Acorn 5.

I think most developers are still trying to figure out what to do with the Touch Bar, so I imagine things are going to change wildly and drastically as time goes on (Acorn included). But, you've got to start somewhere and here is our take on it.

November 9, 2016

Pixar in a Box: Introduction to Color.

I had completely forgotten about Pixar in a Box until now, which is a shame because it's pretty awesome and you'll learn a lot by watching it. The Introduction to animation lessons are also great (and include one of my favorites: Bezier curves).

November 8, 2016

TouchBarDemoApp is cool:

"Touch Bar Demo App allows you to use your macOS Touch Bar from an iPad (through USB connection) or on-screen by pressing the Fn-key. It shows the original Apple Touch Bar, which changes dynamically based on the app you're currently using. With this demo app, you can try out the Touch Bar on any Mac that does not have a physical Touch Bar."

I've put it on my iPad, and it works really well. Not only does it make developing Touch Bar stuff way easier, but you can also see what Apple is doing in their apps in a better light.

The simulator that comes with Xcode is OK, but not nearly as good as using something with a real touch interface (and actually closer to your keyboard!).

November 4, 2016

Two easy and short reads for the coders out there:

Casual Introduction to Low-Level Graphics Programming, by Stephanie Hurlburt.

H.264 is Magic, by Sid Bala.

November 2, 2016

I've been working with NSTouchBar for the past couple of days, seeing what I can put together in Acorn in some sort of reasonable timeframe. I was initially worried that classes would be pretty sparse and I'd have to write a bunch of custom subviews to get anything reasonable to show up on Touch Bar, but to my surprise the API seems pretty well fleshed out. A quick look at the headers shows the number of new classes and APIs available to us with this .x update:

$ cd AppKit.framework/Headers/
$ grep 10_12_1 *.h | wc -l

Another worry I had was that the API would be hacked together by some intern or that it would have an iOS bent to it. But again I was happy to see NSTouchBar and friends use the responder chain in a very reasonable fashion, and it really embraces how Cocoa APIs work on MacOS. I get the feeling this was worked on for a number of years and heavily refined, and was used internally by a number of applications. Which of course makes sense, but not something I had expected.

What are the drawbacks though? There's a lot you can do with this API and based on the examples Apple shows on the MacBook Pro page, there are a lot of different ways to interact with Touch Bar. But this also means a lot of code, and quite a bit of duplicate code unless I want to do some heavy refactoring. And this is for a tiny subset of the market. Do I really want to invest heavily into something that'll only be on pro laptops for the foreseeable future?

I've already implemented a number of Touch Bar things in Acorn, so I'm obviously invested in some part. But time spent on this is time not spent on features that'll help every one of my customers, not just the ones with pro laptops. Maybe I'll think differently once I get my hands on actual hardware.

Still, the API is pretty sweet.