I Am Finley

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Dragons and Geese

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Watched “How To Train Your Dragon” with Lottie Saturday night. Sitting at church Sunday morning and she says, “Daddy Daddy, dragons!” while pointing out the window.

Okay, I think, what does she see? I walk over to see what she’s pointing at. Canadian Geese. She’s pointing at a gaggle of Canadian Geese outside.

“No, Sweetie, those are geese. They’re worse than dragons.”

“Baby dragons!” she exclaimed.

“Well, remember, even baby dragons can spit acid and fire.”

Dad’s job is to train her for battle. Even with dragons and geese.

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Resisting Impulse

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I just resisted posting something to Facebook. And then almost tweeted about resisting posting it to Facebook. It was after the third or fourth sentence, after the second rewrite, that I realized that it was better for my blog than Facebook.

Impulse drives us to post the moment something comes to our mind. Take the extra time to sit on something. The world doesn’t need your commentary immediately. Your snark and sarcasm can wait, even if you don’t catch the trending #hashtag. Be more thoughtful. Slow to speak, slow to anger.

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The Thing About Trucks

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While Brooks and others are arguing that iPad will eventually replace the Mac, Gruber is arguing there will always be a need for macOS—specifically a desktop operating system. Despite what my aforementioned dalliance with iPad might suggest, I’m firmly in Gruber’s camp.

Here’s the thought experiment, which I used to inform my opinion: If you could take only one device with you, which one would you take? Ben Brooks or Federico Viticci would almost certainly choose an iPad.

However, I’d take a Mac. Exactly the 11” MacBook Air, which I’m using to write this article.

Delusions of Grandeur

Which one would I take?

The other day, we were going to meet up with my extended family for dinner. My wife told me that I needed to bring my laptop, as my aunt wanted to talk about some logo design stuff. I was tired after a day of work and mindlessly grabbed my laptop. I regretted it as soon as we started to talk. Why? Because I couldn’t grab my Pencil and mindlessly sketch out some logos and notes.

Most of my design process is now done on my 12" iPad Pro. Between Adobe Draw, Graphic, and Bez I do a lot of design work on my iPad.

Christmas was on a Sunday. One Thursday, the 22nd, we drove up to Chicago to stay with my in-laws for the weekend. Going iPad-only, I did some doodling, some writing, and some reading. But I wanted to work on an iOS app side project.

Part of my developer life is web development. Something I have done for most of my life. I can do much of this from my iPad. But over the last five years, I’ve delved into iOS development. That “Brooks” that Rob Rhyne mentions above? He, Ben Brooks, linked my professional development app Web Tools right before the New Years, saying, “I wouldn’t be able to troubleshoot website errors without this.” But the sad thing is, I cannot do iOS development on an iPad. Xcode isn’t there yet. So I need my MacBook Air.

So which one would I take? Depends. I have set up a Digital Ocean server, installed Ghost, and built a theme all from my iPad. I have designed entire websites on it too. And designed logos, posters, flyers, and more. But if I need to work on an app, I gotta have my MacBook.

So, it’s like Ben Brooks has said, “I couldn’t use my Mac as my only machine in 2004, but in 2005 I could.” If it were about preference, I’d be on my iPad 100% of the time.

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The Importance of Personal Websites

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Personal sites, our blogs, these were once our playgrounds. My own site was the first place I added rollover images, CSS for fonts, tried out a “table free” design. I wrote about the web, surrounded by my own experiments with the web. We all did, and it was only in reading those words from 1999 that I realised there was more to owning your own content than simply not publishing your words elsewhere.

Rachel Andrew

My first blog was called Cochon d’Vol, butchered French for the Flying Pig. It was on a blogging system I built in PHP called Blog Wizard. I put a lot of work into that blogging system. Even had a logo. Never intended to release it. But it was mine. And the site went through a redesign every few months. Because that’s what we did back then.

That was a lot of work. Sites like MySpace were much easier for publishing content. And MySpace, unlike its predecessors, allowed for custom CSS to be injected by users, making each MySpace profile an experience. Usually a gaudy experience with animated backgrounds and poorly chosen colors. And then came Facebook. More refined, less targetted at children. Just publishing.

We lost sight of the importance of our own domains. Photos went up to Instagram. Every thought that came to mind went up to Twitter. But our oasis, our experimental island, was lost. Over the last year or two many of my favorite writers in web development have returned to their blogs. I have done my best to do the same. The temptation of tweeting is hard. Look at President-Elect Trump. Finding a happy medium— a pattern of what goes to those centralized networks and what goes to my own site— takes time and intentionality.

But here I can play. A refresh of this site will be coming soon, something I started working towards right after New Years. After a tumultuous 2016, I finally updated Ghost to the latest and greatest version, gaining a lot of functionality that I hadn’t had before and started planning around an updated look. Let’s return to writing refined, thoughtful articles instead of spontaneous, haphazard thoughts. Let’s return to our playgrounds.

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Racially & Politically Charged Attack In Chicago Livestreamed on Facebook

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"Although they are adults, they're 18. Kids make stupid decisions -- I shouldn't call them kids; they're legally adults, but they're young adults, and they make stupid decisions," Duffin said.

CNN

What are these “stupid decisions” that Cmdr. Kevin Duffin is referring to? Kidnapping an 18-year-old man with special needs. Holding him for at least 24-48 hours. Physically assaulting him. Cutting his face and scalp. And streaming it live on Facebook.

The disturbing 30-minute video shows a man tied up and his mouth covered, cowering in the corner of a room. His attackers laugh and shout "f*ck Donald Trump" and "f*ck white people" as they kick and punch him.

The video shows someone cutting into his scalp with a knife, leaving a visibly bald patch.

Right, I didn’t mention that part about Donald Trump and white people. Specifically “fucking” them. The attackers were black and victim was white. Ordinarily, I would encourage that this doesn’t matter. See Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, both cases where race didn’t matter. But here, we have a video where these assailants are shouting “fuck Donald Trump” and “fuck white people.”

So this is clearly a racially and politically motivated attack: a hate crime. And as the media has so loudly defended the victims of prior such hate crimes, we can expect them to very loudly defend the victim here, right?

"That certainly will be part of whether or not ... we seek a hate crime, to determine whether or not this is sincere or just stupid ranting and raving."

It's possible the racially charged statements were little more than people "ranting about something they think might make a headline," Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said.

He said he did not believe the attack was politically motivated.

It makes sense. Dylan Roof, a young and stupid-decision-making 21-year-old, most certainly thought that his racially charged murder of nine black churchgoers would “make a headline.”

That was hard to type.

These animalistic, inhuman attackers livestream themselves beating and cutting a man, screaming hate speech and not one report from the mainstream media is editorializing this. Not one. It’s barely front-page news. You could claim it was localized gang violence and not necessarily national news, but I would say that Trayvon Martin, a man that President Obama said could be his son, didn’t deserve national attention either. Or any number of the hate crimes committed by supposed Republican, Alt-Right wackos against Hillary Clinton supporters and minorities.

This case— involving two black men and two black women kidnapping, binding, and assaulting a white man— is the clearest cut hate crime since President-Elect Trump won in November. Video evidence and all. Yet the media has shown reservation unlike anything involving black victims.

This is, yet again, one of many reasons that Trump won.

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I Celebrate the Day

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Another year. How often have you read your Bible? How often have you prayed? “Not enough,” is my answer.

Because here is where You’re finding me, in the exact same place as New Years Eve
And from the lack of my persistency
We’re less than have as close as I want to be

Relient K

From the lack of my persistency we’re less than half as close as I want to be. How often is this the state of our faith? Adam4d, one of my favorite web comics, published a comic called I’m a terrible Christian the other day. It hit home.

Sometimes I worry that I’m a complete failure.
And then it hits me.
I am a complete failure.
I’m a terrible Christian.
But Jesus is perfect.
And by faith I belong to Him.
So I keep trying my best.
And even though I worry that my best is terrible,
He credits me with His perfection.
And covers my failures with grace.
And that’s the whole point.

Mercy me. The Gospel is amazing because— unlike other religions that require people to aspire to godliness— Christ requires nothing but surrender. You cannot do anything to get closer to God but follow Him. He’ll handle the rest.

To look back and think that
This baby would one day save me
In the hope that what You did
That You were born so I might live
To look back and think that
This baby would one day save me

You were born so I might live. This is easily one of my favorite Christmas songs and one of my favorite Relient K songs. This baby, flesh and bone, would one day save me.

And I, I celebrate the day
That You were born to die
So I could one day pray for You to save my life

As the hustle and bustle dies down, and a new year begins, as Saint Nick’s presence is no longer at every shopping center, will we forget this Child in a manger? In another 365 days will you say, “From the lack of my persistency we’re less than half as close as I want to be?”

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Christmas Morning

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Let’s close our eyes and make believe,
In all the ways we used to see,
A magic world of fantasy,
When we were kids on Christmas morning,

Sometimes it feels like growing up,
Kills all the mystery of being young,
And who I am now loses touch,
With that kid on Christmas morning,

House of Heroes

As our daughter was about to celebrate her first Christmas a couple years ago, I wrote:

We all remember when we grew too old for fairy tales. When we started to recognize the line between truth and fiction. For some it came naturally, for others it came as a stab that wounded us for some time. As children, our imagination is one of our greatest gifts. A gift that needs to be nurtured and taught.

C.S. Lewis believed that there was an in between period. Between recognizing that line and embracing that line. But, as he wrote in his dedication for Chronicles of Narnia, “someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

I Heard the Bells

As I grow up, I grow to understand that we are meant to have children while we are young, as our imaginations mature, to reel us back in and prevent the childlike faith inside us from dying.

Sometimes it feels like growing up kills all the mystery of being young, but with a daughter, I see the twinkle in her eye as she creates complex stories for her dolls and stuffed toys. “Thank you!” says the elephant to Donald Duck. “You’re welcome,” says Donald.

But when I hold you close I know,
The truth in every story told,
And anything is possible,
I believe just like a kid on Christmas morning.

I had heard this song before, but this year it struck a chord I hadn’t heard before. Hadn’t truly heard, that is. Charlotte is busy with her imagination, and tears come when I stop her to go to bed, or to leave the house. Certain toys must come with us.

Tonight, as Christmas Eve comes to a close, I pray:

And as I lay me down to sleep,
And pray the Lord my soul to keep,
When I wake it’s you I see,
And I feel just like a kid on Christmas morning.

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Flesh & Bone

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Christmastime is a time for music, for family, for friends, and for reflection. Much to my coworkers’ dismay, I decorated my desk the first week of November, having already been listening to Christmas music for a couple months. Christmas music is some of my favorite. But, as many of my friends know, I lean towards the religious Christmas music, not the Frosty’s and Rudolph’s.

So over the next three days, I want to share three songs that have been playing the most over the last few months. Songs of reflection, praise, and love for a God that came to be with us.

Love, what have you done?
Sent out your Son into the dark.
How could you let go? Didn’t you know it would break your heart?

Flesh & Bone

As we focus on the Child at Christmas, we sometimes forget the surrounding story. Reflecting on this sacrifice of an all-knowing, sovereign God is just as important this time of year as it is at Easter.

As Chad Bird put’s it:

None of the Gospels mention this unwelcome visitor to Bethlehem, but the Apocalypse does. John paints a seven-headed, ten-horned red dragon onto the peaceful Christmas canvas. You can read all about it in Revelation 12.

It’s the nativity story we don’t talk about. A dragon trying to eat our Lord.

When a Dragon Tried to Eat Jesus: The Nativity Story We Don’t Talk About

The birth of Jesus was about a war for the human heart, for the human soul. And the world reeled from this invasion. A king tried to kill him as other kings tried to find and worship him.

Love, what have I done?
Why do I run into the dark?
Didn’t I know all that I’ve done would break your heart?
And you’d have to go so far.

It was our wickèdness that separated us from God. But God, pursuing Man since our Creation, had a plan.

You abandoned heaven’s throne when you took our flesh and bone.
You have claimed our wandering souls when you made this world your home.
And You made my heart your own.

Christmas is upon us. Our Lord, the Maker of the Universe and Craftsman of our souls, came down for you. Reflect on that, brothers and sisters.

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The Pendulum Has Swung

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Many things will be said today. Many people will give their opinions as to how we got here. Many will celebrate. Many will mourn. Many will be indifferent. I figured that I would follow up my post from a few months back .

I did not vote for Donald Trump. I held my word. I made a protest vote for Evan McMullin. I couldn't vote for Trump. I couldn't explain that to my daughter. Since my post that has become more and more true.

But here we are, with Trump as president. Unprecedented victory. All the way until the last minutes before the polls closed, Hillary was presumed to be the victor. The same was true earlier this year with Brexit, and I think much can be linked between the two. Many Democrat friends are already calling half our nation racists, bigots, and misogynists. Take note of this.

For the last eight years, I have been called all of these things. I stood for enforcing our current immigration laws: you're racist! I stood for businesses being able to choose who they serve: you're a bigot! I stood for the rights of the unborn: you're a misogynist! The list goes on. The last eight years have seen the Left shove their agenda down the throats of the overwhelming majority of Americans that disagreed and shove it with force. Threats of removing funding from schools, shutting down businesses with $100,000 fines, and death threats galore.

Many American's are tired of this rhetoric. So were Brits. So America fought back. Not necessarily for Trump. No, exit polls showed yesterday that people voted Trump to prevent Hillary winning and people voted Hillary to prevent Trump winning. No one wanted 2016. Including Cardinals fans. But half of America clearly didn't want another four years of the same. They wanted change. And maybe some hope.

So I guess you can say that the pendulum has swung. But don't take that to mean that the Right will start calling names. Hopefully it means that the name calling stops. So maybe, today, instead of assuming the victors to be racist, bigoted, misogynists, step across the line and have civil discourse.

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Pro Software for iOS and Making Money on the App Store

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An Idea

In November I had an idea for an app. For some time I, like many people, have been looking at iOS, namely iPad, and asking if it’s time for me to use it professionally yet. What can it do? What can it not do? What are my real requirements for work? As I explored those questions, I found an area of functionality that no app had satisfied yet that front-end developers require daily: the web inspector.

Finding an area unexplored by other apps can be rare and usually means a lack of API support or a huge time investment would be required to build. Neither ended up true. With about two weeks of development (moonlighting-with-a-baby weeks), I had built the first version of Web Tools. Feeling like I had something special, I got a few betas out via TestFlight and launched it in mid-December.

Launch week was met with an article on MacStories and a boom in traffic. In December Web Tools earned me around $1400.

Pro Software for iOS

November marked the release of the iPad Pro, the new addition to the iPad family, differentiated by its much higher memory, storage, and processing power. But what makes it “Pro”? Software. With iOS 9’s new multitasking split-screen and slide-over functionality, it’s starting to feel like you can really get things done on these devices. With better and better API’s for developers to communicate and share data between apps, we can do more and more with the platform. So where’s the software?

As a million articles have covered, the old structure of selling software included two major features: offering a trial and having upgrade pricing. The first allowed one to charge a reasonable price while not scaring off possible customers that couldn’t try before buying, and the second allowed one to make money from current customers. The App Store offers neither of these. Because of this, it’s hard to charge more than $9.99 (or $2.99, really) for an app and actually make sales. Sure, advertising and word-of-mouth can help spread the word that your app is worth it, but that’s an uphill battle. On top of that, there is an expectation among App Store customers that you will continue to pump out updates, bug fixes, and more for years, all for free.

For smaller apps that require less investment of time or can sell large numbers, this can work. $0.99 multiplied by a million is good money. But pro software targets niche markets. There are not millions of potential customers. So high price goes with higher development investment and higher risk.

Making Money on the App Store

How does this work for the App Store, then? The first version of Web Tools had just two features: a scalable web browser and a web inspector. People are already using it every day because nothing like it exists on the platform. As I completed the first version, I realized that much more could be added to this if the market exists. While I could rise the price of the app with every new feature, I would end up with a high priced app that no one will take a risk on because of the lack of trials and I wouldn’t get additional money from my current customers that I’ve worked so hard to get.

So my strategy is in-app purchases. While many games have given them a really bad reputation, they can be used very well too. I have seen many apps use them for try-first methods, such as only giving read access until you upgrade with an IAP.

The structure of Web Tools allows for IAPs to be implemented very easily, as the tool box (that started with just an inspector) is a series of panels and each major panel will come with an in-app purchase, starting with the JavaScript Console coming this month.

But unlike some games, I don’t intend to nickel and dime my customers. The core app will continue to get feature enhancements for free and the Console will continue to get feature enhancements for free to those that buy that panel. I won’t be charging $0.99 for the ability to edit inner HTML in the Inspector. Nope, that one’s on the house.

A Suitable Path Forward

For software to be maintained, the developer must make money. If your business plan misses that step, your app will slowly die as you lack reason for investing time into it. So this is part of my strategy to keep this app alive. If you wish for the app to continue getting updates, please consider supporting it by purchasing the upcoming Console.

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