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September 09 2011

Developer Week in Review: iPhone 5 is still on hold

Ah, a new school year. It's the time when my wife disappears into her office, not to be seen again until the late spring unless she sees her shadow. My son is grumbling about 60-question math homework assignments, and all the melancholy I feel during the summer about being the only family member on the clock fades away since I actually have the lightest schedule now. Revenge is sweet ...

If you've been in a late-summer haze, here's a few items you may have missed.

Bigfoot sighted using iPhone 5

iOS 5The predictions in August were that the iPhone 5 (or 4S, or whatever it's going to be called) would be announced in early September. Then it was going to be mid-September, and now people are talking about early October. Now, I'm as much of an Apple fanboy as the next guy, but this obsession about the new phone seems to border on the absurd. I've only had my iPhone 4 for a year — I'm not even sure I would upgrade to a 5 unless it cures cancer or something.

The only real reason to speculate about the iPhone 5 ship date is that it will probably coincide with the general release of iOS 5, which definitely is something to talk about, if only to other people who have signed the developer NDA. I mean the ... no, I can't talk about that. But the ... no, can't mentioned that either. Anyway, it's wicked cool, trust me.

Your comprehensive legal roundup

HTCLast week, everyone sued everyone. This item will repeat for the foreseeable future.

Of particular interest is that HTC is using patents acquired from Google to strike back at Apple. The patent war is becoming reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis — I expect to hear a statement from Oracle HQ any day reporting a suspected transfer of patents from Apple to Google and vowing a blockade unless the lawyers turn back at once.

The Makers are coming, the Makers are coming!

For those who live on the East Coast, your annual chance to get your geek on is coming up next weekend. Maker Faire New York will be returning for a second year at the NY Hall of Science, and it's well worth the trip. I went with my son last year, and we'll be back this year as well.

It's a great chance to see programming integrating with the physical world on a much more practical (or impractical) level than developers are accustomed to. If you've spent your life designing ecommerce websites, it can be refreshing to see a pair of honking-big computer-controlled Tesla coils blaring out music. It's also a Mecca for embedded computing and micro controllers, so if you like programming on the small scale, you'll see a lot to enjoy. If you happen to run into me there, say hi!

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July 20 2011

Developer Week in Review: Mobile's embedded irony

Happy Lion day! For those of the Mac persuasion, today is a milestone, as Apple wraps the odometer around again, kicking it over to 10.7. Also, our favorite Penguin (and brother in POSIX arms) turns 20, complete with birthday wishes from Redmond. Many happy returns!

Free mobile OS, but with a patent surcharge

Microsoft continues to look for new and innovative (or old and litigious) ways to make money, and one of them is to squeeze Android handset manufacturers for a reported $15/unit in patent fees for every phone sold.

The irony stings sharp here. Android may be an open source operating system, but in order to actually buy an Android phone, you need to pony up patent money to the king of the closed source OS, Microsoft. And since (except for legal fees) Microsoft has no costs associated with the production of the unit, it's 100% pure profit for Microsoft.

If you want to buy an HTC Droid phone, the story is getting even worse, because the ITC decided that HTC violated several Apple patents. That's likely to lead to a similar arrangement with Apple.

Meanwhile, Blackberry (you remember them) is quickly becoming the also-ran of the mobile market, with a new survey showing a dismal 4% of potential buyers are now considering a Blackberry. This, combined with unconfirmed reports that the Blackberry PlayBook is in trouble, seem to point toward Android and iOS being the safest developer platforms for the near future.

On the other hand, Apple is now so successful that not only are the Chinese cloning the products, they're cloning the stores!

Like fine wines...

As my eligibility for AARP looms, it's good to know that my value as a developer is continuing to climb, at least on average. That's the conclusion of a recent study, which found that older developers tended to have higher reputation values on StackOverflow.

This confirms a suspicion that I've fostered for a while, which is that for those developers who bother to keep up with the new stuff (the study showed that the population of developers decreases rapidly as they age), having a wide range of knowledge and broad experience does in fact have value.

Of course, part of the problem is that older developers tend to get sucked into management or transformed into architects, and some just don't have the passion to keep up with the latest hot technologies. But if you can stick with it, and if companies are willing to recognize that more mature developers have value, the stigma of the older developer being put out on the ice to die may become a myth. Meanwhile, keep the heck off my lawn, you young punks!

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Save 20% on registration with the code AN11RAD


git thee to a nunnery!

The git lovefest continues to swell this week, with Google Code adding git to their list of supported SCMs. With the move, Google achieves parity with well-known sites such as github and SourceForge, and gives developers looking for a place to call their project home yet another option.

Meanwhile, on the theory that you can never have enough standards, a new distributed source control system called Veracity is sticking its head out of the nest. I hate to squash innovation, but with git, Subversion, Mercurial and even cvs all fighting to be the One True source control system, isn't adding another one just playing into the tyranny of choice paradox?

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