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On Mental Health

This post has been a while in the writing, I suppose waiting for the perfect time to publish it. The two things that happened today to make me finally commit it to electrons were the news about Robin Williams, and reading Robert Bloch’s That Hell-Bound Train. Explaining the story’s relevance would spoil it, but it’s […]

Depending on the self-interest of strangers

The title is borrowed from an economics article by Art Carden, which is of no further relevance to this post. Interesting read though, yes? I’m enjoying the discussion in the iOS Developer Community™ about dependency of app makers on third-party libraries. My main sources for what I will (glibly, and with a lot of simplification) […]

Agile application security

There’s a post by clever security guy Jim Bird on Appsec’s Agile Problem: how can security experts participate in fast-moving agile (or Agile™) projects without either falling behind or dragging the work to a halt? I’ve been the Appsec person on such projects, so hopefully I’m in a position to provide at least a slight […]

Happy 19th birthday, Cocoa!

On October 19th, 1994 NeXT Computer, Inc. (later NeXT Software, Inc.) published a specification for OpenStep, a cross-platform interface for application programming, based on their existing Objective-C frameworks and the Display PostScript graphics system. A little bit of history First there came message-passing object oriented programming, in the form of Smalltalk. Well, not first, I […]

Reading List

I was asked “what books do you consider essential for app making”? Here’s the list. Most of these are not about specific technologies, which are fleeting and teach low-level detail. Those that are tech-specific also contain a good deal of what and why, in addition to the coverage of how. This post is far from […]

NIMBY Objects

Members of comfortable societies such as English towns have expectations of the services they will receive. They want their rubbish disposed of before it builds up too much, for example. They don’t so much care how it’s dealt with, they just want to put the rubbish out there and have it taken away. They want […]

Dogma-driven development

You can find plenty of dogmatic positions in software development, in blogs, in podcasts, in books, and even in academic articles. “You should (always/never) write tests before writing code.” “Pair programming is a (good/bad) use of time.” “(X/not X) considered harmful.” “The opening brace should go on the (same/next) line.” Let us ignore, for the […]


Solaris 10, scheduled to be supported until January, 2021, can still run BSD binaries built for Solaris 1 (a retroactive name for SunOS 4.1), released in 1991. I wonder for how long the apps we wrote for our iPhones back in 2008 – the ones we had to pay $99 even to run on our […]

On the design of iOS 7 and iconographoclasm

As I write this, the WWDC keynote presentation has been over for a little more than half a day. That, apparently, is plenty of time in which to evaluate a new version of an operating system based on a few slides, a short demonstration, and maybe a little bit of playing with an early developer […]

An entirely unwarranted comparison between software engineering and astronomy

Back in the early days of astronomy, the problem of the stars that wander from fixed positions in the sky needed solving. Many astronomers, not the first of which was Ptolemy, proposed that these “planetai” could be modeled as following little curves—epicycles—through their larger motions. As it was found that these epicycles continued to fail, […]