Borkware Miniblog

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.

October 7, 2011

CocoaConf Raleigh NC December 2-3

Filed under: cocoaheads, conferences — Mark Dalrymple @ 5:44 pm


I had a great time when I spoke at CocoaConf this last August in Columbus, OH. It was in my back yard and was a no-brainer to go to. I had a huge amount of fun, learned a lot from the other speakers, and had a fun panel discussion. Plus Dave Klein’s family is a lot of fun. Be sure to hang out with Solomon if he’s there.

I’m not sure what my gesture over there is from. Maybe from the virtual sock puppet portion of “Performance Tuning.”

CocoaConf will be in Raleigh NC, December 2th and 3th. You can browse the full schedule to see if stuff is interesting to you. There’s a registration page if you want to go. I can’t make it because I’ll be playing a concert that weekend, otherwise I’d probably head down.  (December is always nuts for me.)

There’s a $50 discount for CocoaHeads folk. The coupon code is a secret to the non-COCOAHEAD individuals out there, but smart folks should be able to figure it out.

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; 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 20, 2011

Learning iPhone in Pittsburgh

Filed under: cocoaheads, iPhone, programming — Mark Dalrymple @ 7:35 pm

iPhone made out of cup cakesThe Pittsburgh CocoaHeads (where it all started) are going to be working through the new edition of the Dave Mark / Jeff Lamarche / Jack Nutting iPhone book as a group (ebook available today! woo!). Our regular monthly meetings will have a kick-off presentation on what to expect the next month. We figure a chapter a week is a good pace for folks with busy lifestyles.

A couple of us are making ourselves available for “office hours” if folks have questions / get stuck. Huge gumption traps for beginners are compiler errors and basic memory management, things that programmers with more experience can just glance at and know exactly what’s wrong. We’re hoping this solves the “stall-out half-way through” problem many people have picking up new technology as a hobby.

I had the pleasure of being the Tech Reviewer for this updated edition of Beginning iPhone4 Development. There’s a lot of good cool new stuff in there. During the course of discussions with Apress about acquiring the book in time for our launch, they’ve made a CocoaHeads discount code good for 25% off Mac/Phone ebook titles until the end of March : APRESSCOCOAHEADS2011, when you get it from the Apress store. There’s also a discount for folks who already have the iPhone3 version of the book, but I don’t know if they stack.

More info is available at, especially if you’re in the Pittsburgh area. Come join us! Folks outside of Pittsburgh are welcome to do the same thing. Feel free to use the monthly kick-off slides, which I’ll be putting up at as we progress into the year.

October 16, 2008

Git to Pittsburgh Cocoaheads

Filed under: cocoaheads — Mark Dalrymple @ 10:52 am


Pittsburgh Cocoaheads tonight will feature Sean McCune talking about Git, the groovy distributed revision control system thingie.

7:30 on the CMU campus.


April 20, 2008

Next CocoaHeads Pittsburgh, April 24

Filed under: cocoaheads — Mark Dalrymple @ 5:04 pm

Hello everyone,

The next Pittsburgh CocoaHeads will be April 24, 7:30 pm at Newell Simon Hall, room 3000. Unless someone wants to talk about something else, I’ll babble incoherently about Unit Testing and Code Coverage, plus a peek at the Google Mac Playground and CoverStory.

We’ve got a google group / mailing list at Please join if you’re in the area.

March 1, 2008

New CocoaHeads/Pittsburgh mailing list

Filed under: cocoaheads — Mark Dalrymple @ 11:51 am

At the last CocoaHeads/Pittsburgh meeting, we chatted about setting up a mailing list, and maybe using a Google Group. I’ve gone ahead and set one up:


February 1, 2008

Next CocoaHeads/Pittsburgh : Feb 7 – NSOperation

Filed under: cocoaheads — Mark Dalrymple @ 2:57 pm

For folks in the Western PA area, the next CocoaHeads/Pittsburgh will be thursday, February 7. I’ll be talking about NSOperation.

October 26, 2007

NSCoder Night

Filed under: cocoaheads, Random — Mark Dalrymple @ 10:40 am

Chris Hanson and Scott Stevenson are organizing NSCoder Night in the Silicon Valley, a weekly event where Cocoa geeks can hang out for coding and mayhem at a coffee shop or a pub. It sounds like it’ll be a huge amount of fun.

For folks in the Pittsburgh area, Jeff Hunter is organizing DevHouse Pittsburgh thursday the 8th. It’s similar to NSCoder and SuperHappyDevHouse, but in the pittsburgh area. Some of the local CocoaHeads will be there.

October 4, 2007

Pittsburgh CocoaHeads

Filed under: cocoaheads, programming — Mark Dalrymple @ 10:03 am


After about a year off, Pittsburgh Cocoaheads is going to be starting up again. Second thursday of the month, 7:30 – 9:30 PM, on the CMU campus (Newell-Simon Hall. Room 3000 or 3001. There will be signs pointing the way)

And for folks who don’t know about CocoaHeads, it’s an international Mac Programmer’s group. Pretty much an excuse for Mac programmers to congregate and geek out. Right now we have 20ish chapters in seven countries, two hemispheres, and four continents. Check out for a chapter near you. If there is no local chapter, or if your local chapter hasn’t met in awhile, feel free to drop us a line and become an organizer.

CocoaHeads started in Pittsburgh several years ago when AgentM and I decided to start a Mac programmer’s group because there was nothing in the area. He came up with the name and the logo, and did a lot of evangelizing in the early days. I’m glad AgentM picked the name : I would have come up with something horrible like “Western Pennsylvania Mac Programmer’s Geeking Out And Food Eating Society”, which doesn’t quite have the groovy ring of “CocoaHeads”

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