239: TZ Discussion – Putting Up Drywall at the New McDonalds

Justin and Jason discuss the canvas-based drawing app that Justin built for Digedu using his JS library known as $$, how Jason got drag and drop working in Titanium and his idea for creating a mobile game for learning electronics, the original Star Trek series vs. Start Trek: The New Generation, the single window strategy for building mobile apps, creating 180 websites in 180 days, the challenge of staying current with the latest programming technologies, the 97-year old man who makes art using MS Painthow PayPal accidentally credited a man $92 quadrillion, coding vs managing coders, the selling of Pluggio, whether Jason’s secret project will remain secret forever and his future plans for Catalystwhy men need women and why they become more generous when they have daughters, why you can’t force kids to be what they’re not, Jason’s experiment with a low-carb diet, the Soylent production delay, Justin’s intuitive eating / habit-building plan, Greenwald’s drip news strategy for keeping the NSA story alive and how Nancy Pelosi saved the NSA surveillance program, the television show Breaking Bad (don’t worry – no spoilers), what’s killing the beeshow Joel Spolsky killed a software patent in only 10-minutes using AskPatents.comXamarin – an IDE and platform for creating native, cross-platform desktop and mobile apps using C#, and a new theory of cancer postulated by physicists.

  1. Marc B says:

    Hi guys,

    long time listener, first time commenter 🙂

    I’ve been using Xamarin for 3 months and I think it’s perfect for cross-platform Apps. I have an App on the App Store and Google Play already, and the client is pretty happy with it. If there’s budget I’d still go for 2 native Apps but it’s the best compromise.
    I played a bit with Titanium but I find it much more dangerous, it’s a level of abstraction too high for me and seems like it can break at any time with API changes on any of the platforms.
    You Jason seem to have figured it out… I guess I’m concerned that you’ll find another problem like the drag and drop one but won’t be able to solve it. I’m curious to how it goes.

    Great job guys, I enjoyed the episode as always!

  2. Matt S says:

    The quantity/quality pottery comment on the 180 websites article was from none other than Derek Sivers! That sneaky guy!

    Jason – you’re continued discussion about a DragonBox like game got me thinking – I bet you could make an interesting puzzle game using the trigonometric identities (http://www.sosmath.com/trig/Trig5/trig5/trig5.html). Make the story that you are a gem trader and you have to fill a customer’s order. Make a different colored gem stone for sin, cosine, tan (and their inverse for later levels). You can “trade” gems with other NPCs in the game but they make trade offers using valid trig rules (I’ll trade you a yellow stone for a half green/half blue, aka tan(x) = sin(x)/cos(x)). You could even handle things like cos^2 by making it a “double gem” or something. And there are whole textbooks filled with practice problems that you can harvest to had a huge selection of levels (cha-ching!).

    Feel free to steal that idea (you or anyone) – I am not a game programmer myself but it was fun to think about 🙂

  3. Jason says:

    @Marc B – Interesting… Why would still go with 2 native apps if you had the budget? In other words, in what ways did you feel that Xamarin came up short?

    You’re right about Titanium, though. It’s a bit scary and there are bugs in the platform, but I guess I’ve walked through the minefield enough at this point that I’m pretty sure I can get done what I need to.

  4. Jason says:

    @Matt S – That’s a really good idea. I wonder if you could somehow make that concept work in a geometric fashion so that it wasn’t just about memorizing trig identities, but developing an intuition about what the trigonometric functions actually represent and how they’re used.

    Anyway, I really hope we see more games like Dragonbox because it’s fun and it actually works!

  5. Marc B says:

    @Jason The main drawback is that Xamarin runs on the Mono Runtime, and removes a level of knowledge about what’s happening. This affects for example reading through crash logs. And if there’s a bug in Mono you can lose a lot of time thinking it’s your fault. But to their credit it’s been really solid since I started using it, and they’re super helpful on their forums.
    Potentially it would be slower than truly native too, but I haven’t noticed it really. If it’s good enough for Rdio it should be good enough for most.

  6. Doug Martin says:

    I think “dater” is a remnant of colonial English. You hear a lot of folks here in Western Massachusetts say “dater” too.

  7. Stuart says:

    Hi guys,

    The electrical engineering discussion about powering an access point with a higher rated power supply was incorrect. The current rating listed on your power supply simply indicates the maximum amount of current that the power supply can deliver at the rated voltage level. If rated at or above the access point current requirements, the power supply will only deliver the amount of current that the access point is drawing. So, if your access point draws less than 1A (which is typical of many consumer grade access points), then powering the access point with a 1A, or 5A, or 20A rated supply does not matter. The rating is not the source of your intermittent shutdown.

    These type of power supplies (also called “wall warts” by some) are notorious for being cheaply constructed, so your best bet is to try a different one (rated at or above the access point’s current requirements).

    Now if you try to use a smaller power supply (say, 500 mA) on your 1A access point, the access point may not power up or the power supply may fail. With a poorly made power supply, you might be able to turn the power supply into a nicely melted clump of plastic.

  8. Justin says:

    @ Stuart – Thanks for the clarification, that’s very helpful 🙂 I will pass on to the back office. So something else must have been going on to make that access point turn off every 30 mins. Anyway, changing the power adapter seems to have fixed it!

  9. Jason says:

    @Stuart – My bad. I guess I got some more learnin’ to do! 😉

  10. Mark says:

    Data? Come on guys. Justin is clearly the emotion-driven human, Capt. James T. Kirk. And of course the binary-brained Vulcan (not the android) is Jason.

    Justin: “I just love looking out at the stars and wondering what we’ll discover among them”

    Jason: “Nowhere am I so desperately needed as among a shipload of illogical humans”

    Am I right?


  11. Justin says:

    @Mark – LOL

  12. Eoin says:

    Still on the topic of Derek Sivers…

    @Jason – about the structure of Catalyst, I like what Derek has to say about it. “It’s either ‘HELL YEAH!’ or no.”

  13. Alex Gemmell says:

    Seriously? Am I the only who winced every time Justin and Jason referred to Star Trek: The Next Generation as “The New Generation”? It’s not a Pepsi commercial!

    Not sure WHAT you’re smoking either Jason – TNG was easily the nest Star Trek series. The original (Kirk) series was “fun” and “lame” in equal portions. TNG certainly had its lame episodes but it had WAY more interesting story arcs and much better written “science fiction”. Some excellent allegories which highlighted modern issues, such as the absurdity of religious wars, political corruption and really good attempts at dealing with moral dilemmas.

    Deep Space 9 (the space station series) had good stories but was ultimately dull. Voyager tried to go the other way with more action but lost it’s appeal because it didn’t also include the brain-engaging story lines of, oh I don’t know… yes I do: The Next Generation!

    The less said about the latest “Enterprise” fiasco, the better.

    Ironically, the original Star Trek movies (with Kirk etc) were MUCH better than the TNG movies!

    Watch Mr Plinkett’s excellent dismantling of the mess that are recent Star Trek (and Star Wars) movies: http://redlettermedia.com/plinkett/star-trek/star-trek-nemesis/

  14. I liked Jason’s comments about doing things to improve the family’s financial situation. That’s resonated with me a bit, I’ve been doing quite a lot of open source work and integrating myself in the PHP community in the last year or two. I’ve learnt a lot and got to speak at a conference, but I think it’s about time I started diverting my attention to things that could be more lucrative in my spare time.

    My wife and I’s weight loss is still going well, I’ve lost 20lbs in 44 days.

    We aren’t on any particular diet and we haven’t cut anything out entirely. I use MyFitnessPal.com to track everything I eat, except for one or two days a week, where I go “off the record”. On those days, I’ve found that I still don’t go crazy, which is nice, I feel like I’ve changed my lifestyle, rather than following a fad.

    We only have two rules, which are really only guidelines:

    1. No alcohol on a school night
    2. If we’re going to have dessert, it should be something we’ve made. It just makes it a little more awkward to indulge, and my daughter loves baking, so it works out well.

  15. Justin says:

    @Dave, Great news on the diet! And thanks very much for the tips. I really like rule #2 that makes a lot of sense.

  16. Danilo Celic says:

    @Justin Chicago is a great town, and we’d love to have you around for a while. The weather is a consideration, but if you’re inside most of the time anyway (being a programmer, I know I am) that may not mean as much as the ability to work side-by-side with you’re growing company.

  17. In case anyone is wondering, this is the scene Jason is referring to “Putting Up Drywall at the New McDonalds”, from Office Space:


    Ps. I spent a summer putting up drywall during college, but never in such a glamorous location as a new McDonalds

  18. @Duncan I think anyone working in IT who hasn’t seen Office Space should turn in their card and work in another industry. Its mandatory watching as far as I am concerned.