Borkware Miniblog

April 13, 2012

Stuff Going On At The Ranch

Filed under: Big Nerd Ranch, meta, programming, Visix, work, writing — Mark Dalrymple @ 8:48 pm

In case folks are dying to read more of my technical writing, I’ve been writing a lot of material over at the Big Nerd Ranch Weblog, including some gems like:

Well, OK, that’s everything, even the not-so-gemmy. For the forseeable future my geek writing will be over there, and I’ll reserve this weblog for cute Vikki pictures:

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January 24, 2012

Interview from Salt Lake City

Filed under: Big Nerd Ranch, cocoaheads, Questions From Friends — Mark Dalrymple @ 2:52 pm

Earlier this month I went down to Salt Lake City to do an on-site class for a company there.  Rod Schmidt, the organizer of the SLC CocoaHeads chapter, was kind enough to delay their meeting by a week so I could join them.

One of the members, Patrick Cassell, runs an Apple news and commentary blog at iTechCrossroads.  He did a brief interview, and posted it online.

I wasn’t quite expecting a verbatim interview, so like I guess like that’s how I actually speak and stuff.  But there were some interesting questions.

Here’s part 1, and part 2.

August 15, 2011

The New Phone Books Are Here! The New Phone Books Are Here!

Filed under: amosxp, Big Nerd Ranch, writing — Mark Dalrymple @ 11:56 am

Vikki bookIt’s been a while in the making, but Advanced Mac OS X Programming 3 / The Big Nerd Ranch Guide has finally started trickling out to folks.  I got my Author Copies today.  WOOOO!  You can see Vikki posing with the new edition.  Everything on the internet is improved by adding a cat.

This book is a massive overhaul of the second edition.  I dropped a number of chapters (I’m pretty sure folks know about version control systems these days), and a number were added (DTrace and GCD anyone?), with pretty much everything edited and improved (bye-bye Shark :-(  Hello Instruments :-) ), covering stuff through 10.6 / iOS 4.  Students taking my class at the ranch get to be guinea pigs a sneak peek of the Lion-related material.  It had already been over five years since the second edition, so we decided to go ahead and ship it, and then do a thorough job on the Lion / iOS5 / iCloud stuff in a later edition.  Hopefully not so much later this time.

Speaking of Editing, Susan and Chris Loper from Intelligent English edited the book and maintained the DocBook-based pipeline of tools.  The second edition did not have an editor, and it shows.  Chris wrangled the tools, and thanks to Susan’s work I’m quite proud of the third edition, the quality of the writing, and the quality of the index (another second edition sore spot).

These things make great Labor Day gifts.  Be sure to order several for the children.  I’ll have a couple with me at CocoaHeads/Pittsburgh this week to give away.

Edit2: Gaige Paulsen pointed out that it’s already available in the iBooks / Kindle stores.  You can snarf the free sample and check out the table of contents.

Edit1: Folks have asked what’s new (skimming down the ToC – I’ve been living inside this thing, and teaching out of it for five years now…)

  • ObjC 2.0 stuff, properties, etc
  • Blocks
  • 64-Bit computing
  • getopt_long
  • lib/otool
  • Garbage Collection
  • Debugging techniques
  • DTrace
  • Overhaul of Performance Tuning
  • Instruments
  • NSFileManager got a complete overhaul
  • IPv6, overhaul of the code
  • CFHost
  • FSEvents
  • Operations
  • GCD

April 19, 2011

Learning iPhone Programming

Filed under: Big Nerd Ranch, cocoaheads, programming, Questions From Friends — Mark Dalrymple @ 1:20 pm

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This last weekend I taught an Objective-C and iOS bootcamp to a group of students and faculty at WVU down in Morgantown WV. They have a cool “AppLaunch” project going on, to inspire students to write real applications on iDevices and encourage an entrepreneurial spirit (sorry, link is broken now), and they invited me down to kick off the technical portion.  Slides are available at my Free Talks for CocoaHeads page

A common question I got beforehand was “what’s the best way to get up to speed on this stuff?” That’s kind of like asking “what’s the best kind of pizza”. It all depends on where you’re coming from, where you want to go, and how fast.

If money is no object, take a Big Nerd Ranch class. In addition to teaching there, I have taken a number of Ranch classes from a bunch of different instructors, and they are all top-notch. The Ranch has a way of doing things that ends up with a really high quality product, enjoyable to both instructor and student. This will cost you a couple thousand dollars and take a week of your life, but you will be well on your way to iPhone programming studliness. Check out AnneKate Halsall’s Taming the Wild Dogcow tumblog for impressions and ah-has during the course of a class.

There are a number of video courses available. Stanford CS 193P iPhone Application Development is online. There is another set of materials from the Rose-Hulmn Institute of Technology for their CSSE490: iOS SDK Programming class.  Also, check the comments here, with some links to videos courtesy of Richard Smiley.

The next level down is books. I love books. I learned to program from books and magazines. Old folks may remember back in the day when computer magazines had pages of BASIC program listings. Keying those in and debugging the inevitable typos is how I learned to program. There are two books I really like for iOS programming: the Apress Beginning iPhone 6 Development: Exploring the iOS SDK by Dave Mark, Jack Nutting, Jeff LaMarche et.al.; and the Big Nerd Ranch iPhone Programming, the Big Nerd Ranch Guide by Aaron Hillegass and Joe Conway. I recommend people read both of them. If one book glosses over a topic the other covers in depth. Disclaimer: I’ve been the technical reviewer for the Apress Beginning iPhone books since the first edition.

What order to read them? If you’re strapped for time, read the Ranch one first. It’s short and to the point. Dedicate a weekend or a couple of evenings and type in everything. Then start working through the Apress book at your leisure.

If you’ve got more time, or you’re working over a longer period of time with other people, such as the Pittsburgh CocoaHeads Learn iPhone project, use the Apress book. It’s longer and wordier (764 vs 380 pages), but goes into topics in more detail. Some of the code is repetitious so you might not want to type in everything.

You’ll want some introductory books if you’ve never programmed before. The Aaron Hillegass Objective-C Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide is very good. I’m partial to the Apress Learn C on the Mac by Dave Mark, followed by Learn Objective-C on the Mac the latter written by me and my hero Scott Knaster. This pair was designed to take you from “loops are cool!” up through Categories, Properties, and Predicates. If you already know C you can go straight into Learn Objective-C. If you already know how to program in something else and just want a quick brush-up on what’s peculiar to C, I’ve broken out the first two chapters of the first edition of Core Mac OS X Programming into a C RefresherLearn Objective-C has an appendix on what weirdnesses to expect if you’re coming from other languages like VB or Java. I know I get frustrated when I have to wade through “loops are cool!” when picking up a new language, so it’s nice having different places you can catch the train.

Finally, take a look around your community. You may have an active CocoaHeads or an NSCoderNight chapter, or perhaps an iPhone programming MeetUp. If there’s not one now, start one! There’s nothing like having living breathing people to ask questions of, and to generally hang around with. You might discover one-off classes like what I did at WVU, or longer-term learning projects like what we’re doing at our local CocoaHeads.

January 4, 2009

New LoC is here

Filed under: amosxp, Big Nerd Ranch, LoC — Mark Dalrymple @ 6:02 pm

It’s finally seen the light of day. Learn Objective-C on the Mac is currently in dead-trees form, and available at amazon and other fine retailers.

I’m rather proud of the work that Scott Knaster and I have done on this second edition. It is the contents of the first edition from Spiderworks, but with about 100 new pages of goodies, including NSPredicate and Key Value Coding. There’s also a whole new chapter on Xcode tips and tricks.

The book is designed to sit between Dave Mark’s updated Learn C on the Mac and Dave’s and Jeff Lamarche’s most-excellent Beginning iPhone Development (exploding exploring the iPhone SDK). We go into things figuring you’ve met C and programming, so no “for loops are fun! ooh! variables!” kinds of rehashing. Instead we cover what’s been added by Objective-C, as well as some software engineering topics like indirection, object-oriented programming, the Open/Closed principle, and refactoring.

Plus the book is written to be fun. The English language is one of my favorite playthings. But the humor isn’t over the top and in your face. (at least I hope so)

On the AMOSXP front, we’ve added about 100 new pages of material, such as Objective-C 2.0 goodies (including some perversions of NSFastEnumeration), 64-bit programming, FSEvents, Dtrace and instruments, and NSOperation; and have also been removing some of the old and obsolete classic Mac information since it’s not relevant.

Fourteen students at the Big Nerd Ranch‘s Advanced Mac OS X Bootcamp got a first crack at the new material. There is a second bootcamp scheduled for February in Frankfurt. The actual publishing of the next edition (and its ultimate contents) will hinge on Snow Leopard’s schedule. Hopefully MacWorld will give us some schedule insight there.

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