The affect of iOS 7 on Montessori education

I found this to be a very interesting piece. Quick background: The Montessori system of education relies on physical objects and gives children tactile experiences, so Apple’s pre-iOS 7 style tied in well with these physical connections that children in Montessori education used. Now, with iOS 7 has largely removing these physical ties. Read the piece to see one instance of how the Montessori system adapted to this change.

Lastly, take a look at this quote:

the connections between the “physical” and the “digital” are becoming increasingly less tenuous

Ponder that for a while.

Why Apple added fingerprint scanning to the iPhone 5s

After Apple announced fingerprint scanning on the iPhone 5s, I asked myself why they chose to add fingerprint scanning? Security, especially for users like myself who found that entering a passcode each time they unlocked their phones was too cumbersome, seems to be the obvious answer. However, I do not think that security is only half the reason Apple added this. Apple wants to make sure that users secure their phone so that their information is secure, of course, but they also care about making their products as convenient as possible.

The ability to swipe anywhere on the iOS 7 lock screen is an indication of this. For those who do not know, you can now swipe to the right from anywhere in the lock screen, making unlocking your device simpler than ever. Now with the iPhone 5s, Apple has removed even the need to swipe. All a user needs to do is tap the home button and hold their finger on top of it until their fingerprint is recognized, which based on initial reports happens fairly quickly. This is Apple, removing friction from everyday tasks rather than entrenching their latest products in useless features, they have made the exceedingly common task of unlocking a phone both more secure and easier—two things which are often contradictory.


September 10th Apple Event Confirmed

I’m excited to see what they will unveil. The rumor mill has pinned down and iPhone 5S with moderate upgrades perhaps including a fingerprint sensor and an iPhone 5C with a plastic body that sells cheaper than the traditional iPhone. Expect the release date for iOS 7 to be unveiled then as well. I’m not expecting any iPad announcements at this event, but an updated MacBook Pro with Retina Display sporting Intel’s Haswell chips would be a welcome addition to the products unveiled next week.

Decode Logo

Decode has arrived

Decode, the theme I’ve built for this blog is now available to anyone who wants it on the WordPress Theme Directory. I would describe the theme, but you are looking at it right now! Although I should point out that it includes some unique features like a reply tool for users to discuss the post with the author as well as supporting standard link blog-style behavior. It is customizable so you can remove features you don’t want (like comments) or change options like what side the sidebar appears on.

If you enjoy the theme, please let me know and rate it on the Theme Directory and if you have any feedback, feel free to reply to this post and let me know what you would like to see. I really appreciate all of your feedback. Follow @BeyondTheCode on Twitter or if you want to hear the latest about Decode.

iOS 7 and shadows

I’ve avoided writing about iOS 7 here until it is officially released, however I had to share this gem.

An interesting detail about the iOS 7 beta that Apple demonstrated at the 2013 WWDC keynote is that while the whole interface has depth and layers, there is no sign of that very common visual cue for depth: shadows.

I think there’s a simple answer to this, and it isn’t about iOS “going flat.” My impression of the illumination metaphor (for lack of a better word) in iOS 7 is that the whole user interface is backlit, just like the physical device screen is. Hence, no shadows.

One could argue that by making the user interface behave as if it is backlit, Apple is treating iOS 7 as a more integral part of the device itself. It’s not a mock front-lit interface with shadows and textures, it is a representation of the actual physical screen.

According to this view of things, it would seem that iOS 7 corrects a flaw in the previous design of the operating system. Where before there was an invisible light placed perpendicularly above the screen, the system accurately reflects the presence of a light placed perpendicularly below the screen.

Striking all shadows from the UI seems to be Apple’s response to the idea that they would adjust UI shadows based on real-world lighting. This is just one of the many interesting developments in the thinking behind Apple’s iOS UI metaphors in iOS 7.

Privacy, blown away

Today I visited Moore, Oklahoma and saw the destruction that the F5 caused firsthand. I had lived in Oklahoma all my life and I had never seen a tornado in person. I had never seen destruction like this. I had read the stories about having a home being ripped to shreds and lives following suit. I had read lots of them. I had seen big storms causing destruction, damage. I had seen lots of them. I had never seen the wrecked inside of peoples’ kitchens from the street. I only saw that in Moore.

It is widely accepted that tornados cause damage to more than just the physical structure of buildings. They can damage deeper, more intangible things. Yeah, everyone gets that. Something I saw that nobody had ever told me about; something I never considered, was the privacy that so many people lost. The inside of a kitchen was visible from the street, opened from the side like a dollhouse. The physical shell that they had built around them was open for all to see. Cleaning a house-turned-concrete-slab, finding personal items, piecing together a mental picture of the people that lived there, was one of the awful effects of a disaster like this. It isn’t supposed to be like this, normally you are invited into someone’s home. They allow you to see into their private life, past the exterior that is really only meant for others to see; into the interior where only the trusted few are allowed. Now, they have no choice but to allow others into their personal lives. They must allow others to see what was only meant for them to see. The ideal of privacy must be left behind in a situation like this.

It only takes the possibility of an intrusion of privacy for people to readily denounce a product. Just look at the reception of the Xbox One or Google Glass. People are worried about the very idea of devices that could possibly send personal information to any company. In Moore, Shawnee, and other cities affected by the tornados, this sort of concern for privacy is a relic of a bygone time.

These people have had their lives blown wide open. It’s not only a matter of physical loss or the loss of personal objects, it is the loss of privacy.

Exiting startups

"We’d like to announce that our company has been acquired by a multi-billion dollar company that has the potential to make far more money than we ever could ourselves, so effective immediately, we are joining their team and shutting down our service that we have worked countless hours on. We hope you celebrate with us our transition to a new family at our new jobs."

This is how every single press release from a company about their acquisition reads for me. I used to become saddened by the loss of another innovative startup. Sometimes, it could ruin my whole day. Now, I have become desensitized to the loss of another innovative, lightweight company. The underlying issue behind these tragic losses is two-fold. One, many of startups take money from investors and continue "investing" it into their product. The problem with this is that they often stop worrying about how to monetize their product, determining that they will figure it out later after they gain more users or reach a certain level of recognition. Second, there is a saddening new mentality in technology—grow big enough and you can sell your company for millions, ridding you of the problem of figuring out how to monetize, improve your product, expand your company, and gain more users. So, like fattening a pig for slaughter, founders take more money from investors, gather more users, and then wait for the call or email from another, larger company who wants to buy them.

It took Mailbox all of a month to be acquired by Dropbox, and while I am excited by what they can accomplish together, I also wish that the team at Orchestra had been able to develop their product to make a profit and reflect the team’s individuality. What if Picasso handed off the first draft of Portrait of Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler to a fellow artist for a large sum of money? It would seem un-authentic, as if he sold out because of money. That is just how I feel about companies that sell out shortly after the journey has begun. The founders of a company are artists. They have the ability to shape the structure and culture of a wonderful new creation that can last for decades to come, but they are guaranteed not to succeed if they sell out to an industry mammoth.

Instapaper’s acquisition was a rare example of a reasonable exit strategy. Marco Arment built a profitable business but was unable to give the product the time and work that it needed, so he sold a majority share of it to a company who could. This is a fine example of an exit. Marco will continue to have a share in the company he built, and is staying on as an advisor for the project. Meanwhile, users will have more active developers maintaining the product and it doesn’t seem likely that Betaworks will abandon Instapaper anytime soon.

We don’t need more startup farmers that jump from company to company, building them up, only to sell—no, kill them. We need artists, sculptors, masons, big dreamers, people that will grow their company to be even bigger and more profitable than the company that they could have sold to a few years earlier. It is time for men and women interesting in building something of lasting value to step up and create companies with the intention of keeping them running for as long as their product is viable.

Oz The Great and Powerful review

Caution, small spoilers ahead.

Oz The Great and Powerful centers around the character known as Oz. Throughout the movie, he finds his way into the heart of about five girls, even more impressive than 007′s work in Skyfall. The first 20 minutes or so of the film is set in black and white in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Then, as one would imagine, the movie springs to life, color, and widescreen video when Oz arrives in the magical land of… Oz.

While the story is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, the cinematography seems to be a prequel of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Strike that, it’s more like a rendition of a found footage film compiled by a novice film student looking to try out Final Cut Pro X. Motion tracking issues are the norm while elementary camera shots long since abandoned by professionals abound. Also, the intern that did the background CGI wasn’t paid enough. This was the worst aspect of the movie for me.

Okay, not really. I lied. The worst part was that the best looking witch turned into the ugly green one. That was terrible. But she was evil so I guess she deserved it.

But in the end, Oz The Great and Powerful, provides a satisfactory prequel; it keeps a consistent storyline that doesn’t conflict with the classic Wizard of Oz while expanding on the backstories of the characters. But it also featured distracting visuals at times and a truly unfortunate casting error wherein Mia Kunis was accidentally cast as a villain.


The all-new, nearly the same Beyond The Code


It was time for a change. 1070 lines of poorly organized CSS was too much. A theme that was not based on HTML 5 and put mobile second wasn’t the way I wanted things to be anymore. So I started over. I forked Underscores and rebuilt Beyond The Code’s clean Decode theme. I am happy with the outward design of the site, so I kept things very similar, but I couldn’t resist a few changes, such as being able to navigate to the next and previous post from a single post screen. The new theme’s code is better organized too, making future changes easier. But the thing I am most excited about, is the mobile first design. I wrote the mobile site in the main CSS and then used media queries to bring in styles for larger screens and devices. This creates a site that literally puts mobile devices first. Most of my traffic comes from mobile devices, so it was only appropriate to build a site that was built for these devices, not scaled down site made for computers.

Admittedly, while you aren’t likely to see sweeping visual changes in this rewrite, you can smile a little bit knowing that the site you are reading is using the latest techniques for a modern web. As always, feel free to let me know if there is anything that you think could be improved upon, unless it is IE 7 compatibility in that case, I recommend you don’t waste your time and instead put it to good use.