Archive for April 16, 2016

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Arment’s Advice

Marco Arment:

It’s easy to look at successful, painstakingly crafted, impeccably designed apps from well-known developers like Panic or Omni and attribute their success to their craftsmanship, design, and delightful details. Far too many developers believe that if they polish an app to a similar level, they’ll be successful, too. And then they pour months or years of effort into an app that, more often than not, never takes off and can’t sustain that level of effort.

These high-profile success stories didn’t become successful because they invested tons of time or had world-class designs — they became successful because they solved common needs, that people were willing to pay good money for, in areas with relatively little competition. […] The craftsmanship and design were indulgent luxuries that their successful market fits enabled them to do, not the other way around.


Recognize that indie development is flooded with competition. This isn’t to discourage anyone from entering it, but should be considered when deciding what to do (and not do): keep your costs as low as possible, and get ideas to market quickly before assuming they’ll be successful.

Computer History Museum Honors Dave Cutler

Richard Eckel (via John Carmack, Hacker News):

Cutler, a Microsoft Senior Technical Fellow whose impressive body of work spans five decades and two coasts, will be honored Saturday evening as a Computer History Museum Fellow, along with Lee Felsenstein, the designer of the Osborne 1, the first mass-produced portable computer; and Philip Moorby, one of the inventors of the Verilog hardware description language.


Cutler, 74, who still comes to his office each day on Microsoft’s sprawling Redmond, Washington, campus, has shaped entire eras: from his work developing the VMS operating system for Digital Equipment Corporation in the late ‘70s, his central role in the development of Windows NT – the basis for all major versions of Windows since 1993 – to his more recent experiences in developing the Microsoft Azure cloud operating system and the hypervisor for Xbox One that allows the console to be more than just for gaming.


One of the toughest challenges was testing the system. Early on, the team decided it didn’t have the resources necessary to write a comprehensive test suite. Instead, they opted for a dynamic stress system, which put a severe load on the overall system. Every night the team ran stress tests on hundreds of machines. The next morning the team would arrive at the office, triage the failures and identify the bugs for the daily 9 a.m. bug-review meeting.


I had the privilege to work on the windows kernel team in the NT5 then XP days. I really wish they could share some of his code. it was the cleanest, well segmented, and commented code I’ve ever seen. it made the system much more maintainable and understandable, in areas that are inherently complex. great interfaces with a clear understanding of what was going in and coming out. and it helped all the other devs raise their game.

Dave Cutler:

I have this little saying that the successful people in the world are the people that do the things that the unsuccessful ones won’t. So I’ve always been this person that, you know…I will build the system, I will fix the bugs, I will fix other people’s bugs, I will fix build breaks. It’s all part of getting the job done.

Kindle Oasis

Amazon (via Hacker News, Slashdot):

Kindle Oasis features a high-resolution 300 ppi display for crisp, laser-quality text—all on the same 6” display size as Kindle Voyage. A redesigned built-in light features 60% more LEDs than any other Kindle, increasing the consistency and range of screen brightness for improved reading in all types of lighting. Kindle Oasis guides light toward the surface of the display with its built-in front light—unlike back-lit tablets that shine in your eyes—so you can read comfortably for hours without eyestrain.

Charge the device and cover simultaneously while snapped together and plugged in. When on the go, the cover will automatically recharge the device, giving you months of combined battery life.

David Pierce:

At $289, the Oasis is the most expensive Kindle in years, four times the price of the entry-level Kindle, which does all the same things. But damn is it tiny. The smallest Kindle yet at less than five ounces and just 3.4mm thick at its smallest point. Got two quarters? Stack them. That’s how thick the Oasis is. It makes an iPhone 6 look porcine.


Kindle is for reading. Nothing more. Everything about its performance, its design, its software, reflects that.

Dan Moren:

The major changes here are in the form factor: instead of the earlier version’s tablet shape, the Oasis is more of a wedge, with a bulge on one side intended to make it more ergonomic to hold. (You can do so with either the left or right hand, and the Kindle’s screen will rotate to accommodate.) Backward and forward page-turning is done either by the touch screen or by actual physical buttons on the side with the larger bezel.

Amazon calls the latest version “the thinnest and lightest Kindle ever”; frankly, I just got a Paperwhite last week, which already feels pretty darn light, but the Wi-Fi-only version of the Oasis is 4.6 oz, compared to the 7.2 oz of the Paperwhite, so there you go.

The iPad mini 4 is 10.4 oz. My ideal tablet would have the form factor and display of a Kindle but the speed and content availability of an iPad.

Kirk McElhearn:

It’s got a charging cover, which doesn’t make sense, given how long the Kindle’s battery lasts.

CGP Grey:

No matter how carefully you pick the text for your screenshots @JeffBezos you can’t hide that garbage typography.