ShopSimple 1.1

I just released ShopSimple 1.1 on the App Store — tell your friends, neighbors, co-workers, pets, SOs, mail carriers.

Even if I say so myself, it’s a great little shopping list application.


Why ShopSimple?

  • Why do I need to tell my shopping list what brand of toothpaste I buy?

  • Why do I need to tell my shopping list when I’m done shopping?

  • Why do I need I need to add things one. item. at. a. time.?

  • Why does my list have to look so complicated?

  • Why would I want to take photos of the dog food I buy?

The answer: you don’t! ShopSimple: simpler shopping lists because life is already too busy.


Comcast’s on-line billing system… not so much

I just saved a negative half-hour trying to make Comcast’s dumb-arse online system recognize me. They just upgraded to a new, better, easier, system (that sounds like OpenID though why Comcast thinks I’d trust them… I don’t know).

Anyway, it requires lots of waiting for little progress bars to march across the screen and answering dumb questions.

All I want to do is pay my bill.

Paper would be faster, easier and cheaper (stamps are sill only 40 something cents.

Aggravated in Amherst (or maybe Peeved in Pelham).

iPhone haiku

Two days ago

fell into water
with iphone in my pocket
sometimes things get wet

This morning

with my fingers crossed
tremulous, phone cased in rice
power on. it works.


pushd, I hardly knew you

From a tech/geeky point of view, this is embarrassing enough that I probably shouldn’t mention it. There is hope, however, that some other soul will benefit from my pain.

If you use the *nix (or OS X) command line, you probably know about pushd. It and its companion popd let you push and pop (duh!) a stack of directories so that you can jump from place A to place B and then quickly jump back. Cool.

The embarrassing part is the way in which I was using pushd. I thought that I had to push the directory I wanted to come back to before I went there. So I would:

> pushd .
> cd /someplace
> ... do stuff ...
> popd

This works, but it (obviously) looks sort of, well, dumb. Somehow, when I learned about pushd, I never learned that it acts just like the change directory (cd) command. I.e., that the argument to pushd was the directory to which you want to move and that it saves your current directory automatically. Thus, the correct (more efficient) way to use pushd is:

> pushd /someplace
> ... do stuff ...
> popd

It only eight fewer keystrokes but it’s conceptually much cleaner. The morass of the story: use pushd but use it correctly. Alternately, keep reading the manual, you’ll probably still learn something!

iTunes app store and 17+ content

With OS 3.0, the iPod/iPhone and Apple’s iTune’s store support content ratings. This is good: I’m all for free expression, adding another layer of maturity (pun intended) to what’s available, etc. However, I don’t want to have to see it and I think Apple should do better. There are two issues:

  1. I have to opt-out of seeing 17+ (or 12+ or whatever) content. This means I need to know that there is such a preference and where to find it and change it.

  2. Even if I opt out, the App store still shows me the objectionable (and often objectifying) apps. iTunes won’t let me buy a restricted app, but I still see them (and since sex sells, the most popular application listings usually contain stuff I’d rather was left out).

In my opinion, Apple should make two changes:

  1. Filter what is shown in iTunes before I get a chance to buy it. The app store makes it easy to download and buy. If I don’t want to see pornography (or if I don’t want my kids to be exposed to pornography), then I don’t want to see that “hot babes whatever” is the number 2 application today.

  2. Make it easier to opt-out of the potentially objectionable content.

    • Unless there is a legal reason for having the out-of-the-box behavior be “show everything”, then Apple should err on the side of caution and hide anything not suitable for general audiences.

    • If free-speech laws mean that everything must be seen by default, then make setting up these controls a required additional step the first time the new iTunes is started. (Yes, this isn’t ideal for a host of usability and don’t piss people off reasons but it would make iTunes a better citizen).

It’s great that Apple is opening up the store to more interesting (er…) applications but there is no reason to flaunt this new content where everyone can see it. Parent’s would rather this stuff was harder to find and people that object to objectification would rather not be reminded of it every time they go to the App store.

git – committing in the midst of a conflicted pull

Just a note about an git-experience I had in case it helps someone else…

  • I was doing a git pull and got a conflict (in the ChangeLog of all places).

  • I fixed the conflict and then tried to commit the fix. Git was mad:

    [gwking@beeter foo]$ git commit -m "fix changelog conflict"                                         
    ChangeLog: needs merge                                                                                
    ChangeLog: unmerged (9325d97bb00d84025506d7bb7a78ba5e245b0275)                                        
    ChangeLog: unmerged (63f7f2ba434dbdb4d98a0c9766ef22a40ece0abd)                                        
    ChangeLog: unmerged (4bba972e7d78619d3a5448357ed8773afd1edece)                                        
    error: Error building trees                                                                           

    Hmmm, what does that mean. Some googling revealed nothing useful and Wolfram Alpha wasn’t sure what to do with your input..

    I ended up flailing for a while before I remembered that I needed to git add the change before I committed.

    [gwking@beeter foo]$ git add ChangeLog                                                              
  • After that, git was happy again

    [gwking@beeter foo]$ git commit -m "fix changelog conflict"                                         
    [master]: created 1d6cba4: "fix changelog conflict"                                                   

Problem solved.

go design!

From the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines

Aesthetic Integrity

Although the ultimate purpose of an application is to enable a task, even if that task is playing a game, the importance of an application’s appearance should not be underestimated. This is because appearance has a strong impact on functionality: An application that appears cluttered or illogical is hard to understand and use.

See also In defense of eye candy

We’ve all seen arguments in the design community that dismiss the role of beauty in visual interfaces, insisting that good designers base their choices strictly on matters of branding or basic design principles. Lost in these discussions is an understanding of the powerful role aesthetics play in shaping how we come to know, feel, and respond.

Truth may not be beauty but beauty does help truth get recognized.