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I Am A Spy In The House Of Love

So I tried something different this year. I took a pass on the angst and nerd drama of the WWDC ticket lottery and saved my pennies for a completely different conference, Streaming Media West. As much as I like working on media applications, I’ve long believed that I’ll be far more useful as a consultant the more I understand the content side and the problems that clients are likely to bring my way. I really like the magazine and its website, and figured I could pick up some useful knowledge both for my development work and my aspirations to do more livestreaming of my own.

tl;dr, was it worth $2,500 of my own money for ticket, hotel, and airfare? No. Not in any obvious way. But the fact that it didn’t pan out may itself provide valuable insights.

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Outclassed

Two speaking appointments, one listening…

Two weeks until CocoaConf Atlanta, where I’m doing sessions on Audiobus and A/V encoding teaching the Core Audio all-day class. Probably the last time for the Core Audio class, but I’ve said that before too. Still, thinking pretty seriously about doing all day AV Foundation class on CocoaConf’s Spring 2014 tour.

And then of course, there’s CodeMash and my half-day class on Roku in January. But I talked about that last time. And it’s sold out anyways.

In between those is a thing I haven’t done in a while (not since WWDC 2009): going to a conference as an attendee, paying a hefty admission fee because I dearly want to learn more about the topic, from the small group of people that know what they’re doing. I’m talking about the Streaming Media West conference, held in Huntington Beach, CA the week after CocoaConf Atlanta (in fact, I’m flying there directly from ATL).

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A brief Anime Central 2013 media travelogue

Anime Central was last weekend in Chicago. I don’t have as much to say this year as last, but a few media related things were worth blogging:

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Rok, Rok, Rok, Rok, Roku Roll High School

I mentioned a while back that I was bored now with Apple apparently deciding to take the first few months of 2013 off, at least in terms of shipping anything interesting. With all the laptops on a schedule of updating mid-year for back-to-school, and all the iOS devices apparently on a holiday season update, and the SDKs getting revved annually at WWDC, it leaves a big gaping hole of nothing at the beginning of the year.

I’d hoped we’d see an Apple TV SDK by now, and since we haven’t, I’ve gone looking for something else to do. I bought a Roku 2 XS Player (just in time for the Roku 3 to come out, wouldn’t you know), since the Roku platform is highly welcoming of third-party developers, and features a broad selection of third-party content (including, of course, another means of getting my Crunchyroll fix).

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Bored Now

A thought occurred to me last year when Apple moved the new iPhone model to a late-year release, along with the new iPad mini, and a rev’ed iPad: what are they going to do in the first half of 2013?

Think back a bit: when the iPhone first came out, it was announced in January and went on sale in like July (months are approximate… I’m trying to avoid using seasons for fear of Northern Hemisphere bias. You’re welcome, Australia.) For a few years, iPhone was a mid-year product, with a corresponding iPod touch coming out later in the year. Then the iPad came out in early 2010 and was updated again in early 2011 and early 2012. But now, all of these products got late-2012 updates. So… what does that leave for the next six months?

Macs? The iMac got updated in late-2012 too, and the laptops have moved to a mid-year schedule (with an announcement at WWDC), better suited to back-to-school buying. Even if we do get the Mythical Modern Mac Pro in the next few months — and I am by no means optimistic about that — it’s a niche product.

And as developers, everything interesting is now a once-a-year update to iOS at WWDC. OS X is supposedly moving to an annual schedule, so that should be getting previewed soon (with an eye to mid-year release), but the simple fact is that very few of us can get Mac programming gigs, so it’s not worth the time of tracking an OS X beta and its new APIs very closely.

If Cocoa development is indeed a cargo cult — and it’s a pretty comfortable cult to be in if so — then the planes aren’t coming back with new stuff until July. Literally the only thing I can imagine happening before then is an Apple TV SDK, and there are few signs of that happening soon, or ever.

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2012: Three Things

I usually don’t have much use for year-ender type pieces — not sure if I’ve ever done one on this blog — but I’ve got an accumulated bunch of thoughts that I might as well just work out in one big brain-dump. With luck, some of it will actually tie together.

Gonna talk about three things:

  1. No politics
  2. iOS Development
  3. Anime

It’s about 4,000 words. Grab a pop/coffee/beer if you need to.

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2013 CocoaConf Tutorial Survey

Earlier this year, I wondered aloud about the habit of tech conferences to have a beginner-oriented all-day tutorial, and whether it would make sense to also have something for intermediate-to-advanced developers. Among the benefits of this approach would be to prevent a bifurcation of the attendees, where the beginners have started to know each other after the first day when suddenly “everyone else” arrives (and they all know one another anyways). Plus, it’s good for the conference and the hotel to sell an extra night of rooms. So, in the spirit of that, we did an all-day Core Audio tutorial at CocoaConf in Columbus, Portland, and Raleigh.

The first two were well attended, particularly Portland, where we had one attendee who’d come all the way from Denmark to attend. Raleigh was much smaller, possibly for any or all of the following reasons:

  • Overall turnout for CocoaConf Raleigh was lower than the other 2012 CocoaConfs
  • Competition for advanced developers from Bill Dudney’s Core Graphics all-day tutorial
  • Exhaustion of the small pool of developers seriously interested in Core Audio development

If it’s mostly the first two, then it may be worth doing Core Audio again in the early 2013 CocoaConfs, for the benefit of those who missed it this time. On the other hand, if the demand has already been sated, then maybe it’s time to put the Core Audio tutorial away and try something else.

But what else? As an iOS media programming guy, AV Foundation seems like an obvious choice. The downside is that I haven’t used AVF in anger (ie, for a paying client), so my depth of knowledge is basically what I’ve learned to do sessions on the topic and write some experimental code of my own. I got dinged on a CocoaConf Raleigh feedback form in 2011 for sounding like I was mostly repeating the developer documentation, and that’s not entirely unfair (and I hate the thought of just repeating the official line on a technology… why bother?). Now what I do bring to AVF is an understanding of the problem domain, expertise in encoding and production and stuff, and a deep knowledge of the QuickTime concepts that have carried over to AVF. In fact, I think what I don’t like about AVF are the places where it’s more limiting and less imaginative than the wild-and-wooly QuickTime. Put another way, void*‘s actually make me happy in a media API — because they’re placeholders for future functionality — and AVF doesn’t have as many of them.

What else could I pitch? The client work I’ve done for the last two years instead of AVF is all about iPad productivity, something I’ve wanted to try to push in 2013, as I think we’ve lost the thread of “iPad as creative device” a little bit. So, documents, files, inter-app communication, copy/paste, undo/redo… good useful stuff there, though none of it is necessarily stuff you couldn’t figure out yourself (ie, it’s not a problem domain like media where there’s knowledge you have to master outside of the APIs).

And of course, I’m on this livestreaming kick now, so maybe an all-day tutorial on livestream production, which would be part programming, part video production tutorial: competent lighting and sound, compression and bandwidth concerns, production software, server-side strategies, business concerns, client playback APIs, etc. About half of it would be like my grad school days, TA’ing the introductory video production class. So that would be very different and probably very nichey, but also probably crazy fun.

So those are the ideas I’m kicking around now. What I need is some idea of which of these — or something else — would sell enough seats to be worth my time and CocoaConf’s. What would the readership of this blog and Twitter/ADN feed be interested in? Let’s find out:

[iframe src=”https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/embeddedform?formkey=dHdrMDZ3Ri15cHVzSHBmMkJmdWQ2U3c6MQ” width=”475″ height=”700″]

Streaming the Streaming Talk (CocoaConf Raleigh, Dec. 2012)

Since Jeff Kelley demanded it, here’s a dump of the setup I used to livestream my CocoaConf Raleigh session about HTTP Live Streaming (and the Core Audio session before it). Attendees of these talks are welcome to skip to the bottom of this blog for promised links to code and slides.

First off, links to the recorded livestreams on UStream:

  • Core Audio in iOS 6 – stream
  • Mobile Movies with HTTP Live Streaming – stream pt. 1, pt. 2

The second talk is split in two parts because Wirecast crashed partway through the session, breaking the stream and forcing me to start the broadcast anew. And that speaks volumes about what a seat-of-the-pants operation this was.

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The Sound of Plaid Friday

CocoaConf Plaid logoOh, this is nice. In the spirit of all these aggressive Black Friday offers, CocoaConf has announced a substantial deal for what they’re calling Plaid Friday. On November 23 only, you can score a registration to next week’s CocoaConf Raleigh for $50 off and get free admission to my Thursday All-Day Core Audio Tutorial (or the introductory iOS Tutorial taught by Walter Tyree).

In another fit of geeky Black Friday goodness, Telestream is offering 30% off all their products, including the screencast recorder ScreenFlow (which I use), and the livestream production suite Wirecast, which I’ll be getting for $!50 off, thankyouverymuch.

And that takes us back to CocoaConf, actually, because I’m going to be livestreaming my two Saturday morning talks from there on UStream. The events are now scheduled on the invalidstream: Core Audio in iOS 6 at 9:00AM EST (14:00 UTC), and Mobile Movies with HTTP Live Streaming at 10:45 (15:45 UTC). Apparently, I can’t deep link into the scheduled events on Ustream, so please visit the invalidstream channel and sign up for a reminder if you like. And yes, the live streaming talk will itself be streamed, and that stream will discuss how the stream is created and played (on OS X and iOS devices). So that’s ridiculously meta, at a minimum. Also, I’m bringing a camcorder, tripod, and 15′ FireWire cable, so I should be able to get a halfway decent longshot for the talks that can capture both me and the screen (and the audio we’ll create in the Core Audio talk).

CocoaConf Portland ’12 and the AudioQueueProcessingTap

CocoaConf Portland was this last weekend, and the conference continues to grow in scope, prominence, and depth with each installment. Visiting the US west coast for the first time, it picked up Brent Simmons (famous for NetNewsWire, Glassboard, and MarsEdit) and Daniel Pasco of Black Pixel as keynoters, plus James Dempsey playing some of his famous WWDC developer-oriented songs, such as the timeless luau of Cocoa memory management, “The Liki Song”.

For my stuff, I kicked off Thursday with a second run of the all-day Core Audio tutorial, which I’ll be doing again at CocoaConf Raleigh. It’s nice to teach these advanced classes, because I keep learning things about Xcode and Obj-C from the attendees as we work through the projects together.

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