Category Archives: Quips

Change Infinite Loop’s Name to Apple Playground

When Apple’s flagship “Infinite Loop” headquarters was built in 1993, the name implied many promises of eternal iteration. Regrettably, none of these promises are likely to be fulfilled.

While it’s impossible to predict whether _some_ characteristic of the landmark might one day meet the standard, none of the most obvious candidates have passed the test:

  1. The buildings form a connected loop, so you can technically walk from one building, to the next, to the next, etc. This gives a feeling of an infinite sequence, but it’s apparent to anybody that there are in fact only 6 buildings, labeled IL1 through IL6. Add in IL7 if the Peppermill (now BJ’s) is accounted for, and you get seven. Seven is nowhere close to infinite.
  2. Given the size of the building compared to Apple’s relatively modest Silicon Valley workforce, it seemed at one time that it might house infinite employees. As time wore on and Apple’s successes grew, the number of employees who could be packed into the buildings’ narrow confines was shown to be … decidedly finite.
  3. Lifers at Apple might have once expected to work a virtually infinite number of days (and nights) on the campus, but as time wore on it became evident that these people either retire or move on to other companies. Finally, the remaining hope for infinite workdays was dashed by the construction and opening of Apple Park, where many current Infinite Loop employees will now work.

In fact Apple Park exceeds, by every reasonable measurement, the “infinite” aspirations of Infinite Loop. The extent to which one can walk around it infinitely is grander. The number of employees it can shelter, while shying considerably from infinity, is nonetheless greater. And the career longevity of folks who call Apple Park home today is, I’ll concede, about the same as it was at Infinite Loop.

The pragmatism in naming Apple Park is evident. In corporate headquarters, nothing is infinite. Not even for Apple. In naming this major headquarters upgrade, it makes no such allusions.

So what’s the perfect name for a smaller hoop of a campus, residing a stone’s throw away from the mighty Apple Park? Apple Playground, of course. You’re welcome.

(Radar #38078647)

Nineteen Years

Nineteen years ago today, I joined Apple as a full-time employee.

I was 20 years old, on the verge of 21. I dropped into a workplace filled with the most ambitious, most laid-back, most serious, most bizarre, most intelligent, least obsessed-with-intelligence people I have ever met. They made up, and were made from the culture that is Apple.

If you had told me 19 years ago that Apple would become the most successful company in the world, I would have believed you. Even at its lowest points, the place seemed to be teeming with latent success. It’s why I wanted to work there so badly, and why I’m so glad that I did.

A Billion Dollars Worth Of Work

John Gruber shared a link about Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and her new “billionaire” status. He cites Bloomberg’s David de Jong quoting author David Kirkpatrick: “Did she do a billion dollars worth of work?”

I thought Gruber’s criticism of the statement was fair, and thought-provoking:

Would Kirkpatrick have asked this of a man? And if he had, would Bloomberg have run the quote?

It’s probably true that women such as Sandberg are subjected to a greater, unfair amount of speculation regarding the appropriateness of the rewards for their work.

In my opinion, that’s how Gruber’s link should have ended. But he added:

I searched Google for the phrase “Did he do a billion dollars worth of work?” and the only hit was this tweet from Jezebel editor-in-chief Jessica Coen, retweeting this tweet from Alex Leo pointing out the absurd gender bias in this article.

The implication, by my reading, is that the lack of Google results for the searched phrase: “did he do a billion dollars worth of work?” is evidence of a gender bias against women who have earned a billion dollars.

My problem with this line of reasoning is that the naturally contrasting search: “did she do a billion dollars worth of work?” also yields nearly no results. The vast majority, if not all of the results for that search are related to news from the past day related to this issue.

I don’t doubt that people are more critical and dismissive of a woman who has earned herself a billion dollars, but Gruber’s search example doesn’t support the claim. I wonder if there is a search that would support the claim? On Twitter, Gruber pointed out that there are fewer female than male billionaires. So perhaps it’s insufficient to measure disdain for female earnings by searching on the scale of billions? A paraphrased search on the scale of millions yields zero results, and zero for men as well. So “nobody” is complaining about the worthiness of folks, male or female, who earn a million dollars.

I agree with Gruber’s premise, but his own evidence doesn’t support it. I would rather see flimsy evidence omitted from an argument I agree with, because it offers a weakness for naysayers to attack.

Alex Serriere, on Twitter, offers a simplified search that does support Gruber’s premise, albeit indirectly:

@danielpunkass @gruber I think these searches sort of prove the point: “did he do enough” 347k results, “did she do enough” 1.9m results.

Of course I concede that none of this is scientific, but as far as off-the-cuff Google searches go, I find Alex’s results far more compelling and supportive of the argument at hand.

Restart Your Day Job

This timing could not be more perfect. As Matt Gemmell exits the professional software business, my old friend Duncan Davidson returns to it. For the first time in many years, he’s taken a full-time job as a software engineer, working for Wunderlist.

Duncan has a rich history in software development. From his time at Sun, he is the man behind Apache Tomcat and Ant, two Java tools that even I, a person who is mostly oblivious to Java, am familiar with. (As it turns out, I even use Ant in the build process for MarsEdit. That’s a story for another day.) Duncan also made a name for himself within the Cocoa community by writing one of the earliest Cocoa development guidebooks.

But Duncan is also a photographer, and a damned good one at that. I was impressed when, years ago, he put his considerable software abilities aside to focus on that lifelong passion. My first memories of this shift are seeing him roam the halls of Apple’s WWDC conference, not as an attendee but as a paid professional photographer. He went on to photograph for various O’Reilly Media conferences, and to this day he is the the main stage photographer for the illustrious TED Conference.

That’s an important detail to note in Duncan’s story: by returning his focus to the craft of software engineering, he will not be giving up his passion for photography. Professionally, he will continue to work with TED, and privately, I’ll be damned if you ever find him without a camera at close hand.

Duncan had the guts, many years ago, to give up software engineering to pursue photography. That has worked out very well for him. Now, he’s showing he has also has the guts to return to what he left behind. As a “new developer” in 2014, I’m sure there are things for him to learn from his teammates at Wunderlist. But I’m also sure there are many things for him to teach. I look forward to seeing where Duncan’s passions for software and photography take him next.

Quit Your Day Job

My friend Matt Gemmell has long been known as a prolific Mac developer, public speaker, and selfless contributor of open source code to the Mac community. He’s also a writer. He’s shared his thoughts on subjects ranging from coding well to living well, and in a recent post he makes the broad proclamation that he will give up the profession of programming to become a full-time writer. Making Changes:

Maybe it’s foolish, and from a commercial point of view it certainly looks that way, but I must try. As of this moment, I’m no longer developing software, either for myself or for others. I’m writing full-time.

Folks who read about this daring change of course will likely have one of two reactions: to support him unconditionally, or to condemn him as a fool. Count me among the supporters.

Most people who mutter the disgusting, deplorable phrase: “don’t quit your day job,” do so from a position of ignorance, of envy, or of both. “Quitting one’s day job,” so to speak, is the starting point for any major change in one’s career, and most of us could stand to do a lot more quitting and a lot less settling.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I quit my career of programming and threw all my energy into being a professional musician, interface designer, or … who knows what? I am at once afraid I would be an utter failure in another field, and worried that I might miss my beloved programming too much. But that’s not to say the day won’t come when I lay down my IDE and move on to another life pursuit.

Congratulations to Matt on making a difficult, important decision. Best of luck to him in his new career as a writer.

Color Inside The Lines

Twitter is buzzing with rumors that Apple is on the verge of acquiring Color Labs, the company that famously raised $40 Million in venture capital before failing to produce anything that resonated with a large number of customers.

The article on The Next Web alludes to the possibility of there being some patent value in Color’s holdings. Interestingly enough, Color has apparently only recently published several patent applications related to sharing of information among “device groups.” The applications listed are all published within the past month and a half, and all feature iPhone-like art in the supporting illustrations.

I haven’t taken the time to dig through the content of these patent filings but the the fact that they are based specifically in sharing of content among iPhone-like devices, and that they were filed within the past few weeks, lends credibility to the separate speculation by The Next Web that Color’s founder Bill Nguyen has been specifically angling for an acquisition by Apple. “See these pretty iPhone patents? They could be yours!”

OpenSSL On Mac OS X

Wolf Rentzsch learned about the various gotchas of linking directly with Mac OS X’s OpenSSL security libraries, and shared his wisdom in a cheeky Apple-style technote format:

Long story short: we screwed up when we included OpenSSL (libcrypto) in OS X in the first place.

(We learned our lesson and didn’t repeat the mistake with iOS.)

Now there’s some transitionin’ to do.

Linking directly to OpenSSL on Mac OS X is a time bomb. This is probably a more pervasive bug than it would otherwise be, since Apple prescribed using OpenSSL in their Mac App Store documentation demonstrating how to analyze Mac App Store receipts. The vast majority of developers probably followed Apple’s example, and are thus using OpenSSL and linking directly to libcrypto.