Friday, November 8, 2013

Review: iPhone 5s Case

I normally don’t write reviews, but I figured it’s never a bad time to start.

I’ll jump right into it.

I have never before gotten a case for my iPhone. Cases add bulk, take away from the aesthetic of the phone, and are just another “thing” to keep track of. But when I heard about the leather case that Apple created specifically for the iPhone 5s, I thought that it would be the end of my no-case journey.

It came a couple of days ago in the mail. I ordered from Best Buy online. The cases come in 6 color choices—brown, beige, black, yellow, blue, and red. I went with black, since it was the only one that could really go with space gray. Not to mention, I’d read a bunch of reviews that said the other colors (especially the brighter ones) were prone to picking up dirt quickly.

The case looks and feels great in the hand. The leather is no frills and simple. It’s not the sort of leather you’d see on a cowboy boot, but supposedly it’s real. There is a stamped Apple logo on the back. It looks pretty cool, and gives it more authenticity, I guess.

Putting the case on is quite easy. It really is fitted quite well to the form of the phone. Sort of expected for a case, especially if you’re also the manufacturer of the phone itself, but I suppose it’s still a good thing.

As for bulkiness, it didn’t add much, but it was enough to be noticeable. In terms of weight and form factor, the iPhone 5s with the leather case “felt” like my 4S in the hand. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (some people might like that), but it’s not totally for me.

The biggest problems I have with the case are more functional and less visual.

1. The leather cover over the power button is a bit too stiff. One should not have to struggle when pressing the power button.
2. The volume buttons are not covered like the power button is, but they’re still quite hard to reach. It’s not impossible by any means, but it’s just hard enough to be annoying.

Given that I wasn’t blown away by the look and feel and the usability problems that it has, I decided to return it. I think I’m still in the market for a case, just not the Apple one.

Monday, July 8, 2013

So long, California, and thanks for all the fish

It’s been almost four years since my wife and I made the decision to move to Los Angeles after college. We came here for a lot of reasons, but the biggest ones were family, the lively tech scene, and the practically perfect weather.

All in all, I really do love this place.

But after nearly four years of calling it home, the time has come to make a change.

Real estate prices are through the roof and state income taxes are amongst the highest in the country. From a business perspective, franchise taxes (which you have to pay even if your business loses money) sting and processing times for even the most routine paperwork take months.

Even outside of ritzy areas like Beverly Hills, houses advertised as “teardowns” by brokers are going for prices in the neighborhood of $1.2MM and up. Homes at every price range are getting multiple all-cash offers within days of going on the market.

Renters are fairly shielded from this reality, but if you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner here, it can be a struggle.

We decided that we didn’t want to struggle. And why should we? More so than ever before, where you live matters less than what you can do. And that’s an amazing thing.

So, where to? The answer was clear to both my wife and I from the beginning: Austin, Texas.

Austin boasts no state income tax, real estate a young couple can actually afford, an exploding tech scene, and beautiful landscapes. Throw in great food, music, and culture, with a taste of Fiber Internet, and you’ve essentially described my perfect city.

As a part of my move, my company, Aurora, has become Lionheart Software, a Texas LLC. I’ll still be doing everything I’m doing now: helping small teams build great software. And there’s a good chance Pushpin will be getting some company.

I’ll be moving out later this month and am excited beyond words. If you’re an Austinite, send me an email. I’d love to meet up.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Mike Krieger on Startup Tech

Mike Krieger (Instagram cofounder) wrote an article today on Opbeat regarding the technology stack tech entrepreneurs should use for their startups. His advice could not ring more true to me (especially in light of my previous post).

Ultimately, the most important thing to keep in mind is that your “stack” shouldn’t define you; while some engineers are attracted to companies working with cutting-edge tech, that shouldn’t be the driving force behind your early technology decisions. Instead, establishing a solid base with mature data storage, and augmenting more exciting recent projects where they can add value further up the stack will let your team stay focused on solving the challenges you’ve set out to solve.

In short, use the right tool for the job, even if it isn’t sexy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

There is No Right Way to Develop Software

TDD is the only way to write bug-free code. Pair programming is the only way to work. We’re successful because we only hire remote workers. Blah blah blah blah blah.

I see shit like this every single day.

Little tidbits like this are so mesmerizing because they fool us into thinking that they’re the only thing separating us from that giant pot of gold at the end of a ridiculous awesome double rainbow. And, ultimately, that’s what the people writing this sort of thing would like you to think.

If you were to take a random sampling of 100 software engineers and asked them “what is the first thing you do before starting a new software project”, I bet you’d get 100 different answers.

So then why do so many people seem to think that their way is the only way?

The answer I think is both really simple and really complicated. Simple, because some people just like to talk. Complicated, because the software engineering industry is actually a collection of subcultures that face-off constantly against each other to defend their job security.

This all started yesterday after I read an article by Chris Sturgill about tests and how they’re overhyped. Everything written in the article was totally reasonable.

But the comments on the article painted a totally different story. If you were only to have read through the comments, you’d think the Chris was on crack or something. How dare he question TDD? How dare he even think to question the validity of our test-driven culture?

So after seeing some of these comments I felt compelled to write what I’m writing right now. I really don’t want this article to have to do with testing at all. This is just about being a good software developer.

Let’s cut to the chase.

There is no “right” way to develop software. I repeat: there is no right way to develop software. Some people in our industry like to cargo cult and don’t want to believe this. They believe that the sweet new hotness they learned a couple of hours ago is the only way to make things work and build reliable pieces of engineering.

I’m sorry to break it to you. The new hotness is probably not new. It’s probably just new marketing on old hotness. At some point you’ve gotta learn to stop dropping everything you’re doing and changing everything and then bragging to the world about how your new way is the “only” way. It’s not. Stop.

Being a good developer means compromise. It means sometimes doing things one way for one project, and another way for another. It means balancing the needs of your stakeholders with your ideals. Sometimes they’re not always going to match up, but that doesn’t mean you should stomp the ground with your feet and have a tantrum when things don’t go your way.

HN discussion

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