inquiries into software and technology

Where, oh where, did my download go?

Apple was nice enough to put a debug menu in the OS/X App Store.  To enable this menu,  launch terminal and enter the following command:

defaults write ShowDebugMenu -bool true

Restart the App Store and you get the following:

App Store Debug Menu

I’m not sure how useful rest of the menu will be, but the second item is a little gem entitled “Show download folder”; I really learned to appreciate this when my Xcode 4.1 download failed and I had to delete the incomplete download before re-trying.

In case your wondering, after upgrading to Lion, my download directory was:

/private/var/folders/vl/1k3h6k9s1g1gnkpkn1579mm40000gn/C, Julie Sameuls, EFF

Julie Samuels of the EFF reports on a significant problem: developers choosing not to sell apps because of fear of law suits.  “…Lately we’ve seen a disturbing new trend: patent trolls targeting app developers. … It should come as no surprise then to hear reports that developers are pulling their apps from the U.S. app stores.”

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I have been watching the turmoil in the mobile development world with a great deal of angst.  I don’t have any applications that are at risk, so I could ignore the situation.  The truth is that this is a really big deal, and no one should be ignoring it.  In simple terms, I believe this to be the most significant change to affect software developers since the emergence of the mobile development marketplace.

Traditionally, software has been sold by publishing companies, much like books are.  Publishing software required resources, capital, and a distribution system.  The were certainly notably exceptions: Jim Knopf (PC-File, 1982), Andrew Fluegelman (PC-Talk, 1982), and Bob Wallace (PC-Write, 1983) all became millionaires from their shareware work; Phil Katz (PKZip, 1989) turned PKWare into a multi-million dollar company.  Most independent developers didn’t become as rich or well-know; in fact, many only sold their software as a second job, since it couldn’t replace their main income.  Why?  Resources, capital, and distribution.

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When I was at University, I remember my compiler professor telling me the four rules of writing a compiler: “Make it right, make it right, make it right, make it fast”.  The point was that no matter how fast the compiler was, it was worthless if it didn’t operate correctly; and close wasn’t good enough!

It has been quite a few years since that class and I have learned that “absolute reliability” is rarely the best plan; of course, there is a big difference between making a compiler (or a bridge) and making a website.  (None of my projects have actually ever been life-or-death, despite what some of my clients have thought.)

Here are my updated “rules” for mobile developers:

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I suppose each blog begins with an entry like this… “Why I created this blog.”  In many respects, a better question is, “Why didn’t I create this blog before?”

Okay, admission of guilt.  I’ve been coming up with excuses not to create this blog for longer than I can remember: “I want it to look right”, “I have to create it from scratch”, “I have more pressing issues”, whatever!  At the end of the day, they are all excuses.  The real truth is that I let myself be intimidated by not knowing how to start a blog.  Odd, coming from someone who’s life pretty much revolves around learning new things.  Well, here’s the truth: I know how to learn; I don’t know how to blog.

I’ve been getting a lot more involved in the software development and entrepreneurial communities lately.  Tthe more involved I get, the more I want to contribute.  This led me to the realization that I want to make a more significant contribution, to reach a broader audience.  I keep asking myself what is stopping me from doing this?  Well, no one can find what I have to contribute because there is no place to find it.  So, I figured out why I don’t have a “voice”: it’s because I’m not saying anything!  This is what a good friend of mine calls a BFO, or “Blinding Flash of the Obvious”.

Enough!  Time to get off the bench and start playing.  I’m certain I will try and stop myself with tricks like, “I don’t know what to write”, but I promise me (and anyone else who is reading this) that I will not fall for that crap!  The way to figure out what to say, or how to say it, is to say it!  (Another BFO?)

So, at the very least, when I am stuck trying to convince myself I can’t write this blog, I can always come back to this entry and find some inspiration.  Or, perhaps, a good kick in the rear!